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Alone and Concerned
Nov 18, 2004

Dear Doctor,

I am 26 years old and I have been positive for almost four years. Coming from a Cuban family I have no support whatsoever and in fact live in a completely different state then them (I am in california and they are in miami) I have had a very hard time lately because I started meds and my doctor put me on temporary disability while I acclamate to the medications. the first two weeks were horrible with classic adjustment symptoms. Now I am slowly starting to adjust but still feeling pretty sick at times. So I have been in my house for three and a half weeks in my mid twenties alone with no one to visit or call me and I feel extremely lonely and scared. I feel like I have lost control of my life and now when I go out to the grocery store or to get the mail or the worst is when I try to drive on the freeway and I exhibit symptoms of agoraphobia with horrific panic attacks. Tonight I invited an aquaintance over for dinner and midway eating I had to stop and excuse myself saying I was very exhausted and had to lay down (this person knows nothing of my situation). Of course I must have seemed absolutely crazy to have interrupted a fine meal to "lay dow" when in actuality I was having a full fledge panic attack. As soon as I am by myself again I start feeling better but I dont like being by myself. I feel lonely and scared. I feel like there is no one my age who is positive to relate to and the support groups I have been to are definitely not my thing. Should I try some kind of antidepressant? Am I just losing my mind? Is it common for people in my situation to feel absolutely anxious and depressed?

I need some kindess please. I dont want to feel sorry for myself but lately I am so overwhelmed.

I used to be an outgoing and vibrant person and I feel like my little light is being dimmed and I dont like it one bit.

Response from Dr. Horwath

You are definitely suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks. The good news is that panic disorder and anxiety are treatable. We have extremely good treatments. You should consult a psychiatrist and get help as soon as possible.

Also, you are not alone. There are definitely people your age who have HIV infection, and talking to them in a supportive setting may be very helpful. Consult with your HIV doctor or clinic to see if they have other resources that they can connect you with.



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