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OCD and HIV
Feb 16, 2014

OCD and I recently had my first child. While pregnant, I had to stop taking my meds and things got pretty rough. I became a huge germ freak! I've never even thought about half of the things I worry about now. While at the doctor one day I sat my purse on a counter where someone had sat their specimen cup and I'm assuming urine got on my purse. I immediately brought the purse home and haven't touched it since! Ever since that day I have been consumed with the thought of aids being spread throughout my house. I wash my hands a ridiculous amount of times, can't touch things I eat without scrubbing like I'm going into surgery, bathe multiple times a day, think that it's on my furniture, and the list goes on. I am back on my meds but I'm having trouble overcoming the compulsions and worries. I now go out in public thinking it's on everything I touch and have to change clothes before I hold my child. My husband works in the ER and I feel like he's covered in it! He's sick of giving me reassurance and doesn't understand my OCD thoughts. It's getting to be very overwhelming! Do you have any advice to overcome this irrational fear? I need reassurance that this is indeed an irrational fear and that it is ok to eat without washing my hands, touching my underwear etc... I have been making myself do these things but the worry still exits. I have only been back on my meds for a few weeks. Help!

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Thanks for writing. Congratulations on having your baby! Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur in higher frequency with either HIV or post-partum. You can read more here. As you have discovered, these fears are not rational and therefore trying to talk yourself out of having them will simply not work. You may also discover that the scope of your anxiety expands over time.

There are effective treatments for OCD. I would suggest finding a psychotherapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for this condition. Your physician may also want to prescribe one of certain antidepressants which, as an adjunct to CBT, effectively reduce these irrational thoughts.

Don't hesitate to act- this is a serious but treatable illness which impacts not only you but your family.

Good luck,

David



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