The Psychological Effects of Herpes

When a person is diagnosed with the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), it is common for them to experience a number of powerful emotions, particularly if they have been diagnosed with genital herpes (HSV 2). Although this diagnosis may seem like a major problem, especially for those who are in a relationship, but the symptoms of herpes can be treated and even mitigated by diet, exercise and other natural means. It is important to keep this in mind when dealing with the emotional effects of the herpes diagnosis.

Emotional Effects of Herpes

The initial reaction to learning that one may have herpes is often disbelief and even an inclination to blame the test for generating incorrect results. This is normally followed by the realization that the test is in fact accurate and that herpes is now a permanent factor of life. This is accompanied by feelings of sadness, helplessness and confusion with regards to actually processing the information. These psychological responses to being diagnosed with Herpes are universal for those of all ages.

Add to this the fact that a herpes diagnosis often leads to stigmatization which can be amongst peers or even self-imposed. Stigmatization simply refers to having an attribute that devalues one member in a group, differs from the norm or is related to undesirable characteristics. A model was created that proposed that negative feelings were directly related to recurrent outbreaks. Therefore, Herpes lesions drive these negative effects, especially amongst those with poor coping abilities.

If the Herpes diagnoses is found on the genitals, the emotions are strengthened thus kick-starting a number of consequences such as anxiety, hostility, shame, depression, low self-esteem and social isolation. In turn, these effects play a significant role in an individual’s decision to discuss their ailment with friends, family, medical professionals and potential and current sexual partners.

Dealing with Herpes Emotionally

The first step to reduce the feelings of stigmatization is concurrent with reducing the frequency of outbreaks. Historically, stress was believed to be a major driver of outbreaks but experts are now challenging this theory. Researchers have found that recurring outbreaks can actually cause additional stress. Regardless, managing the factors that contribute to stress can help reduce outbreak frequency.

Researchers have discovered that stress reduction combined with stress management and muscle relaxation techniques can combat the frequency of outbreaks. This type of research supports the fact that it is critical for those living with Herpes to properly plan to decrease outbreaks. These techniques and others taught in guides such as The Ultimate Herpes Protocol are simple to follow and considerably less expensive over the long-term instead of relying solely on medication.

There are several psychological methods that will help you speed the process of adjusting to the ailment. First, you must realize that it is normal to be emotionally stressed by Herpes at first. To realize come to grips with it, you must have time to adjust and remember that it will get easier. Second, consider that genital Herpes is like any other infection and you were capable of managing those. Third, if you start to feel isolated, find someone to lean on. This could be a close friend or call the National STI Hotline to speak to a counselor. There are also group sessions you can attend to help you cope with the ailment. Finally, do not assume that having Herpes will prevent you from being involved in a long-term relationship. There are millions of couples who deal with the virus daily and they make it work.

Discussing Your Herpes with your Partner

When you have been diagnosed with Herpes, you must always tell your partner. However, you must say it the right way in the correct time and place. First, consider how you want your partner to take the news. Of course you do not want it to be a major problem so present it in a casual, unemotional and direct manner. Also, do not suggest how your partner should react. It is best to just say you have Herpes and ask if they know what that entails then be prepared to present facts.

Therefore, prior to approaching your partner, you want to learn as much about the ailment as possible so you can answer any questions they may have. Always stress that it is quite common and give them a one-in-five-type statistic which can be settling. Some occasionally get sores on their genitals while others have symptoms that are so mild they do not even notice them. In the end, do not load the discussion with only negative imagery. As difficult as it may be, add as many positive and neutral aspects as possible to the conversation.

In addition to minding your language, pick an appropriate setting and do not interrupt what your partner is doing when you break the news. For instance, do not call them at work or school or barge into a room to break the news. The correct setting is relaxed and comfortable without distractions. A conversation over a walk in the park or a quiet dinner is preferred.

Understanding that Herpes Doesn’t Have to be a Life Sentence

Throughout the entire process, remember that being diagnosed with Herpes is not the end of the world. Diet, exercise, natural supplements and medication can help all mitigate the symptoms. Herpes does not mean you will never have a relationship again or that your current partner will leave you. Being educated on the virus and educating others is the best approach to removing the stigmatization behind the ailment and leading a normal, healthy life.

Featured Image Source: