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Panic related to HIV exposure

Feb 5, 2004

I am somewhat of a hypochondriac and have minor OCD. It does not incapacitate me, but I do worry about my health a little too much. For almost two years I have been on 50 mg of Zoloft a day. It had definitely helped with sleeping and for these two years things have been going great.

However, I just went through an HIV scare about a month ago, and was completely freaked out. I have tested, I am negative and the doctor assured me that I am fine, to relax and need to stop obsessing about HIV infection.

I am pretty much over the HIV issue, but now I am suffering panic attacks, and am terrified of having any sex. All is fine, and the next thing I know - my palms and feet are dripping with sweat, my heart starts pounding, my mouth goes dry and I feel nauseated and it is hard to swallow and eat. Then I start to get upset and the sweating gets worse, which makes me more upset, and it just gets worse and worse (like a vicious circle). I am constantly taking my tempature (which is always below normal). My doctor prescribed Xanax, and it helps, but he states that it is addictive, and I DO NOT want to get addicted to anything. Each time I take the Xanax, I feel guilty and worried that I am starting an addiction that I DO NOT WANT. Thus feeding the panic attacks. I just want this to stop and get out of this circle of fear. All of this is pretty recent, and hopefully with time, it will get better. Just need some advice and a reassuring voice.

Response from Dr. Horwath

Zoloft is an excellent treatment for panic attacks. You may need a dose adjustment to get a more effective response. Zoloft is used in doses of 50 - 200 mg/day. For panic attacks, doses in the range of 50 - 100 mg/day are often sufficient. Consult a psychiatrist for advice on better managing the panic attacks.

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