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Feeling drunk all the time.
Jun 2, 2013

I was infected with HIV in 2001, but I did not find out about it until 2006. Within a couple of years after infection, I began suffering from lightheadedness, nausea, migraines, and increased fatigue and depression. Since about 2007, my condition has grown worse and I have seen three neurologists, an ENT doctor, primary care doctors, cardiologists and infectious disease doctors. Every test they can think of has yielded negative results. The last year or so my condition has gotten so bad that it feels like I am always intoxicated, like ten or more beers worth. It's constant. I have balance issues, confusion, severe depression, suicidal ideations, debilitating anxiety, trouble sleeping, fatigue, feeling hot, neck pain/stiffness, visual problems, double vision in one eye, and other issues that feel like vertigo. Is this something that I just have to deal with having HIV? I did start meds in a Gilead study about two years ago when my cd4 count got into the 300s. If this is normal, how do people cope with this? I've given careful consideration to ending it just to not have to deal with these effects.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing I'm sorry to read about the numerous difficulties you have experienced over such a long period of time. These severe symptoms are not typical of living with HIV (although many people will experience one or several of them at times). Mental health concerns, such as the depression you mention, can create physical symptoms (as can anxiety). Among your numerous consultations you don't mention a mental health provider, per se. I would recommend getting a thorough assessment to try and determine if some of these symptoms may be rooted in your anxiety and depression.

This is especially important since you mention suicidal thoughts. Such chronic and severe debilitating symptoms can result in such ideas, but I strongly encourage you work with a mental health provider to develop tools and skills to help you better deal with these concerns. While they may not eliminate the symptoms, tools such as relaxation, breathing, and meditation (along with therapies to address any depression or anxiety) will certainly make it easier to live with them.

Best wishes in finding solutions,

David



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