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I'm taking the plunge!!! (psychiatrist or psychologist?)
Jul 28, 2010

This is a HIV therapy question. Hopefully, I can get help so I don't have to bother you ever again. You have answered 2-3 of my posts, and for that I am forever grateful.

I have been dealing with the possibility of having HIV for the past FOUR years now, and it has been extremely emotionally taxing (to put it lightly). I have had around 20 HIV tests, but I naively kept thinking that I could have gotten the disease accidentally at the clinic through reused needles. I also kept thinking that I had gotten HIV through unusual circumstances (ex. strip club lap dance).

As a result, I have decided that this is something that I'm just not going to be able to handle on my own. I thought I could, but I can't. It pains me (emotionally and financially) to have to do this, but I'm going to take the plunge and seek help from a professional to deal with my HIV fears and several other problems - I think I have OCD and anxiety/social anxiety - which may be the result or the cause of my HIV paranoia.

I'm very new to the whole therapy deal, and I don't even know where to start. My GP was not very helpful in helping me find a therapist. As such, I'm going through Angie's list, but I don't know if I should be looking for a psychologist OR a psychiatrist. I'm a very thorough person (I always do a lot of research), and I just want to make sure I'm choosing the person that will be most likely to help me. So here is my question: Should I look for a psychiatrist or psychologist? Who would be most likely to help me live again?

I also have one more question, IF you have time:

My HIV fears were exasperated ten-fold this past month, which has prompted me to seek professional help. To make a long story short, I fingered a girl of unknown status a couple months ago and then rubbed my eyes. It crossed my mind that I might have gotten infected this way, but I quickly convinced myself I was being irrational and that it was my HIV paranoia and not logic.

Then, 7-8 months later, I made the mistake of masturbating in my room and then shortly thereafter (maybe 3 mins) I went to the bathroom, touched the toilet paper, and then took a shower. Unfortunately, my brother used the bathroom right after me, touched the toilet paper (I noticed that it was unraveled), and took a bath. I convinced myself that this would be very low risk, but then he started having symptoms three weeks later (-swollen lymph nodes, fever, and rash-). Now, I'm worried that he rubbed his eyes or came into contact with some bodily fluids while taking the bath.

So, naturally I'm freaking out. This incident is what put me back at square one. Currently I'm waiting for the three month mark to get tested. So my question here is whether or not I should tell my mom to get my brother tested also. I don't want to freak her out if there was ZERO risk, but if there is even a small risk, I feel like a completely horrible brother if I don't at least give my mom a heads up. What do you suggest?

Thank you so much for you advice. I have gotten a tremendous amount out of reading all that the archives have to offer. I'm finally going to take your therapy advise that you have recommended to so many people. So, I'm signing out, hopefully for the last time....

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I'm glad you have decided to follow my advice and seek psychotherapy. I would suggest you see a psychiatrist, at least initially. Psychiatrists are MDs and therefore can prescribe medicaments. Psychologists are not MDs and therefore cannot write prescriptions. You may need anti-anxiety or antidepressant medicament in addition to counseling (psychotherapy). Once the psychiatrist has evaluated you and set out the treatment plan with or without prescription medications, you may be able to switch to a psychologist for ongoing "talking therapy," as this is often significantly less expensive.

Regarding your "one more question," your fears are once again unwarranted. There is no reason to advise your mother of your fears over this non-exposure!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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