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Symptoms of Stress and Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

Jun 5, 1998

Can stress cause thrush and/or other symptoms of HIV infection?


Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question.

Emotional stress (due to anxiety, depression, and many other causes), can itself cause many symptoms that are very similar to those of HIV/AIDS, and many other diseases. Some people who are suffering from severe emotional stress, convince themselves that they have thrush, AIDS, and just about any other disease, even when they actually do not have these diseases.

Sometimes emotional stress can cause physical symptoms. For example, people can sometimes develop stomach ulcers if they have prolonged emotional stress. In addition, severe stress can also cause headaches and fatigue. Some people may then convince themselves that they have AIDS and other diseases, based on these symptoms. I have also seen people who were concerned (and sometimes even obsessed) that they had swollen lymph nodes (swollen glands). They would then feel their lymph glands numerous times. As a result of feeling their glands so often, they would irritate the glands enough to actually cause lymph node swelling. They would then convince themselves they had AIDS or another disease, based on having swollen lymph nodes.

There are other times that a person can actually convince themselves that they have symptoms of a disease, when they actually do not. This is called psychosomatic symptoms.

How can you know if your symptoms are due to stress or another problem? The only way to know is to see a doctor, who can then examine you, and do any necessary lab tests. In addition, if a person is suffering from ongoing emotional stress, then mental health counseling can be extremely helpful as well.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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