Mental Health and STD

Mental health refers to behavioral patterns that affect the way you think, feel, and act.  Mental health relates to STDs in a complex way and the stigma results in unifying thread that causes harm in many ways, as research shows.

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Even though STIs pose a real threat to public health, the World Health Organization says that over 300 million cases of STIs occur globally such as chlamydia, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and syphilis, can be easily treated and prevent.

But the funny thing is that we understand more about the physical effects of STIs more than its emotional and mental implications. Sure, STIs are treatable but most people who contract it suffer from stigma and shame.

As they try to confront the shame and guilt some of them end up developing stress and other mental problems. In fact, most people dealing with STIs go through severe depression, stress, anxiety, sadness, and other conditions without knowing.  Sometimes these conditions can be so traumatic.

Common conditions of mental health problems

Depression

This is one of the most common mental health conditions and can range from mild to acute. The symptoms of depression can affect your daily life activities.  Both treatment and the guilt of having STIs can lead to depression.

Common symptoms include: 

  • Feeling sad and anxious all the time.
  • Not enjoying the activities that used to be fun.
  • Feeling restless, frustrated, or irritated all the time.
  • Lack of sleep or waking up in the middle of the night.
  • Concentration trouble.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Worry

Being worried all the time means you’re concerned about something. It’s quite normal to feel worried, especially if you contract STI.

You might be worried about how STI will affect your relationship or sex life, or if you have passed the STI to your sexual partner.  You may also be worried about how people will perceive you once they know you have an STD.

Being worried and anxious all the time might have a huge impact on how you carry out your daily activities.

Anxiety

 Anxiety usually describes the nature of worry and its effect on your daily activities. The longer you keep on thinking about something, the more anxious you become. This is common when your STI result is negative, but you still feel uneasy.  You might find yourself retaking the test or going to the internet to find more information.

Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Uncertainty, poor memory, poor concentration, intrusive thoughts.
  • Withdrawal, difficulty sleeping, appetite, drug abuse, change in social activities
  • Rapid heart rate, chills, nausea, fatigue, headaches.

Here is what you can do when you’re worried, anxious, or depressed:

Talk to a counselor: Talking to someone who has experience in helping people who worry a lot or have anxiety issues can help you. 

Talk to your partner: If you’re in a relationship, it’s wise to inform your partners about your condition so he/ she can go for testing and receive medication. 

Only use reliable sources to find information: The internet is full of information, some are outdated, others are misleading. So when searching for information for STDs, make sure it’s from a reliable source. If you can help it! Don’t search for any information because it can increase your anxiety or worry.

Practice safe sex:  If you really can’t abstain from sex then practice safe sex by using dental dams, condoms, and getting vaccinated.

Seek treatment:  Always go for regular checkups with your partner. This is also crucial because some STDs are asymptomatic. Make testing a regular part of your routine.

Even though it’s important to focus on your physical health during treatment and recovery; remember to take care of mental health because it’s just as important.

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15617367/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000753/

https://journals.lww.com/stdjournal/fulltext/2004/01000/mental_health__a_powerful_predictor_of_sexual.4.aspx

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24324756/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14695951/

https://www.ajmc.com/journals/issue/2004/2004-12-vol10-n12/dec04-1965p917-924

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8113895_Mental_health_disorders_and_sexually_transmitted_diseases_in_a_privately_insured_population

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796823/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796823/

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