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Full-Blown AIDS & Obsessed &Terrified with Dying

May 10, 2004


I want to thank all the medical staff at this site for all the valuable information I have received, which I never would have known.. even though my doctor is the head of the infectious disease dept at a major university.

Since finding out I had full-blown AIDS in November of '02, I have become terrified and obsessed with dying. I cannot function. I feel that I am at the end of my rope. The energy my fears and obessions takes has drained me terribly. My viral load has been undetectable for several months, yet my cd4 count remains below 100. It has since my diagnosis. I have a psychiatrist, yet all she can say is, 'quit obsessing and get on with your life.' Well, if I could do that, I wouldn't need a psychiatrist! Antidepressants don't help, yet I have been diagnosed with depression way before my AIDS diagnosis. I have panic attacks also, yet am afraid of nerve pills, because I have abused them in the past. Do you have any suggestions what I can do to ease my terror and obession with dying? It's all I think about all day, every day. I need some sort of respite, I don't want what's left of my life to be ruled by fear.

Thank you

Response from Dr. Horwath

It sounds like you are suffering from a severe anxiety disorder. Your symptoms include panic attacks and recurrent, intrusive thoughts about dying (obsessional thoughts). There are treatments available for these types of symptoms, including medications and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. The medications that have been used most successfully with panic disorder and obessive thoughts are the SSRIs, a group of drugs that includes Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, and Lexapro. If your psychiatrist is not familiar with the use of these drugs, then consult someone who is. This should not be difficult if you have a physician at a university medical center. Contact the department of psychiatry or ask your AIDS physician or your psychiatrist for a referral.

Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for obsessions should also be available at a university. The department of psychology will no doubt have some clinical psychologists with some training and experience in this type of treatment. Give it a try.

For the worried!
Negative but still anxious about HIV

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