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At El Centro, we focus on mental health as it pertains to the other health conditions that we study:

- Substance abuse
- HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Intimate partner violence (IPV)

Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are related to these other health conditions by:

- Increasing a person’s risk for experiencing the other health conditions,
- Worsening the effects of the other health conditions, and
- Affecting how people respond to and follow treatment for the other health conditions

Substance Abuse, HIV/AIDS and Intimate Partner Violence as Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders can be intertwined and difficult to diagnose and treat. Therefore it is important to identify all health and mental health conditions that may be impacting an individual or family, and to address and treat all of the conditions in an integrated and comprehensive manner.                                                                           

Here are some examples of how health and mental health conditions can co-occur and of how they are intertwined:

- People who are struggling with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and panic attacks sometimes use drugs to self-medicate – to feel better. Self-medication might include abuse of illegal drugs such as marijuana, as well as abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs such as Xanax, Valium or Klonopin. 

- Women who are dealing with depression related to HIV and IPV might begin to use drugs to help manage their depression. 

- Intimate partner violence is linked to the occurrence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), substance abuse and mental health conditions. For example, depression is one of the most prevalent consequences of IPV among women,  and almost half of IPV victims (47.6%) suffer from depression.