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Grief and Health Anxiety

Oct 24, 2000

I have always experienced hypochondria after traumatic incidents in my life (always cancer-related), so I know this is a coping mechanism I use. But I have had very little experience with grief. I am a heterosexual woman and recently the man I had been dating for several months died of a heart attack. After a period of extreme shock and grief, I became obsessed with the idea that I had gotten HIV from him even though I have absolutely no indication that he was infected (we met through a "herpes" social group because of the difficulties of dating with that). All day long, I think back to every conversation we ever had to look for clues that he made have previously participated in "high risk" behavior or have been bi-sexual. Of course, an obsessed person, can find whatever they seek. (Every gay friend and co-worker becomes a former lover, every cough a symptom of disease).I'm also obsessed with some weird symptoms I had a few weeks after we first had unprotected sex in September that I attribute to HIV infection. I went to see my doctor who prescribed me with some medication (Paxil), but I know it takes a while to work. I'm considering seeing a therapist, but I wonder if this is just a manifestation of grief that will resolve itself. (Of course, deep down, I think I have HIV). I spend hours on the Internet researching instead of spending time with my two small children, so this obsession and terror is really interfering with my life at home and at work. Maybe I should ponder how I would cope with life if I did have HIV and stop thinking it would be the end of the world. What would you suggest?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

This forum is specifically only about HIV related mental health issues. While your question uses HIV as content, but is not really about HIV or AIDS so I will decline to respond. Michael Shernoff, MSW

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