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Self confidence

mental health

We can all suffer from low self-esteem or experience self-confidence problems at times in our lives but if you’re living with HIV, you are more likely to struggle with these.

How can my HIV diagnosis affect my mental health?

If you already had low self-esteem before you were diagnosed with HIV, whether from your childhood or some other problem, receiving your diagnosis may have worsened this.

Worrying about your future, your body image and telling people that you are HIV positive are all common. Much of this concern can come from the feelings you had after you were diagnosed.

Feeling guilty about your HIV status can lead to self-esteem problems but this can only stop you from being motivated to live a full and enjoyable life.

What are the long-term consequences of low self-confidence?

When you’re feeling low on self-confidence you can feel trapped and unable to progress with your life.

Perhaps you feel that your life isn’t worth investing in or that you simply don’t have the ability, money or looks to achieve what you think others have managed to do.

Self-confidence can also impact upon your relationships with others – you may not feel confident enough to tell your close friends and family about your HIV status, for example.

These feelings are perfectly normal but if you can find a way to overcome them and improve your self-esteem, you’ll be happier and are likely to be healthier as you take control of your life and what you want out of it.

What can I do to become more confident?

If your lack of self-confidence is preventing you from talking about your HIV status with your loved ones it could be useful to explore ways to better adapt to your situation.

Talking to your friends and family can be one of the best ways to boost your confidence – they have your best interests at heart and can provide emotional support when you need it most.

Taking some time to look at all of the things you’ve achieved and the problems you have overcome is a good starting point to give yourself a lift.

You could also try making contact with support groups for HIV positive people, which can be a good place to talk in safe surroundings with like-minded people. Workshops that aim to give you skills to boost your confidence and self-esteem could also be useful.

Talk to THT Direct or use our Service Finder for details.

You can also talk to one of our Online Counsellors - it's a free, confidential service open to all members of myHIV who are HIV positive and live in the UK.



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 31/10/2012 by P.Kelly

Date due for the next review: 31/10/2014

Content Author: S. Ellis

Current Owner: S. Ellis

More information:

Bénabou, R. & Tirole J. (2002) Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 117(3) 871-915

Brown, J.S.L., Elliott, S.A., Boardman, J., Ferns, J. & Morrison J. (2004) Meeting the unmet needs for depression services with psycho-educational self-confidence workshops: preliminary report. British Journal of Psychiatry 185:511-515

Providing Emotional Support, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (2007)

Lévy, A., Laska, F., Abelhauser, A., Delfraissy, J., Goujard, C., Boué, F. & Dormont, J. (1999) Disclosure of HIV Seropositivity. Journal of Clinical Psychology 55(9):1041-1049

Top four needs of people with HIV in the UK all related to mental health, NAM aidsmap (2009)

Self-Esteem and Hope, The Body (1996)

Rosenberg, M., Schooler, C., Schoenbach, C. & Rosenberg, F. (1995) Global Self-Esteem and Specific Self-Esteem: Different Concepts, Different Outcomes American Sociological Review 60(1):141-156

Weatherburn, P. et al. (2009) What do you need? 2007 – 2008: findings from a national survey of people diagnosed with HIV. London: Sigma Research