Some studies have shown that depression, anxiety and loneliness may be related to a worsening mental health, poor quality of living and even a worse cognitive performance in people who live with HIV. This is why mental health is an aspect that must not be neglected.
At the same time, other investigations have found that mindfulness is a technique that helps reduce levels of depression and anxiety in people with HIV.
What is mindfulness and how does it work?
Mindfulness is a type of meditation which centers in being conscious of what is being felt in the moment, without any interpretation or judgement of that which you are feeling, getting in the way. Meditation itself has its origins in certain religions and sometimes pursues spiritual means, which is why a similar practice is what has come to be known as mindfulness, though distanced from religious beliefs.
In order to practice it, breathing techniques, guided images and other methods are used to relax both the body and the mind and thus reduce stress. By not being linked to religion, it has become a tool with a relatively consensual mode of application (methodology) and this is why it’s possible to investigated with a scientific method approach.
This is what a team of investigators did in the so called AMBR study, in which participants were over 50 years old and lived with HIV. Starting with initial questionnaires, it was discovered that 21% of participants (mostly men), had depression, 21% anxiety and 51% suffered from loneliness. The study was carried out between May and August of 2020, so confinement from the COVID-19 pandemic may have influenced these symptoms.
The study divided participants into two groups: one received online mindfulness sessions, with pre-recorded audio messages, for 25 days, while the other group did not receive any therapy. Results showed that depression levels improved 20% more in the mindfulness group than in the control group; levels of anxiety went down 22% more in the first group than in the second one, and loneliness was reduced by 19% in those who practiced mindfulness compared to those who didn’t.
The best thing is that you can also find mindfulness sessions in several video or podcast platforms. Many of them are free and you can play them in the time and place you choose, in any mobile device with access to the internet.
At AHF we offer counseling and accompaniment, we also have support groups in some health centers. You are not alone, locate an AHF or Allied center near you for more information.