Sep 12, 2003
I have been poz since 1989 and had my health go up and down. T-cells as low as 7 and kept on fighting to live as normal a life as possible. Now after seeing so many freinds not win the battle I finally feel alone depressed alot of the time I have some how shut myself off from most people and lost touch with the Hiv comunity. I haven't really discussed it with my doctor as I feel kind of pathitic being so alone. I have heard alot of long term survivors are experiencing this to some degree. Is this normal how I am feeling? And how do I get back to living instead of merely surving? Dean
Response from Mr. Shernoff
Indeed some long term survivors do feel exhausted and depressed from the effects, mentally, emotionally as well as physically, of living with the disease for a long time and surviving their friends and aquaintences. It sounds like you are experiencing symptoms of clinical depression. The first step is for you to consult with a mental health professional who is experienced in working with people with HIV and AIDS to have your mental condition evaluated. If indeed you are suffering from a form of clinical depression then a combination of talk therapy and antidepressants is usually the best route to take.
So, please do not judge yourself for how you are feeling. (That is very often one symptom of the depression itself.)Make an appointment with your doctor and ask him or her to refer you to a colleague who is either a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist in order for you to discuss how you are feeling with someone who is an expert in this area. Even if your doctor suggests that he or she just write you a prescription for antidepressants, do not go that route. Insist on a referral to a mental health specialist.
Depression is a very treatable condition. But if left untreated it almost always worsens, so please take the step of calling for an appointment with your primary care MD today.
Michael Shernoff, MSW
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