Meds, Mind, Body & Benefits > Mental Health & HIV

Is my high level of anxiety med driven or disease driven? HELP!

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I have been on Truvada and Isentress since 2007 and started having panic attacks and anxiety after starting my HIV regimen. Doctors have shoved Paxil, Prozac, Klonopin, and they all made me feel like a zombie or caused the panic attacks to get worse. I kept telling the doctors that I'm not depressed and the attacks come out of nowhere.  The only thing that has worked is Xanax which I have taken .05 at night for years.  However, in the past months, my anxiety and attacks have started early in the morning now as well so now I am taking .05 in the morning and at night.  I am not a fan of taking these types of medications, but for some reason I can't get it under control. My current cd4 is 1,364 and I am cd4 has been very high for 5 years.  A few doctors have suggested I just go off my HIV meds, and other doctor's have said to switch my meds altogether.  My HUGE concern is having such a good cd4 count, do I want to take the risk of losing these good numbers?  Does anyone have any suggestions as it is really starting to affect my quality of life, my job, my personal life, etc.  Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

From my unscientific observation.  Quite a few of us have developed anxiety after becoming hiv positive.  My personal opinion is that it's the hiv, but that's because my anxiety started when I became positive but still didn't know it and wasn't on meds.  Once I discovered the HIV I got on meds but the anxiety stayed.  Have been on two different hiv meds.  The one I'm on now Complera is a lot better than previous med of Atripla (which did make it worse).

A med change could work.  There are plenty of options to choose from.  See if one lessens your anxiety.

I would NOT stop hiv meds, that sounds to much I'm my opinion.

Miss Philicia:
I really do not think it's the virus in isolation that causes anxiety. If your anxiety issues began before you even knew you were diagnosed I would call that a coincidence.

You know, HIV-negaitve people have anxiety issues too. If you've been prone to it pre-diagnosis then it stands to reason that left untreated it would worsen after diagnosis.

Joe K:
Hey Libra,

I empathize with your frustration in getting your anxiety under control.  I suffer from depression and anxiety and they are two totally different issues.  What I can offer is what worked for me and that was to begin by seeing a psychiatrist to diagnose exactly what you are experiencing.  You don't mention if you have seen a shrink, but I highly recommend it, because there are specific drugs to treat anxiety and you don't have to feel like a zombie to get relief.

I would also suggest that you coordinate your meds, between your HIV doctor and your shrink.  There are certain drug combos that can be contraindicated between HIV and psych meds and reviewing them with both docs will minimize any potential issues.  You also might want to learn some exercises that can help to calm you when you begin to feel overly anxious.  Some cognitive therapy may also help you to discover the source of your anxiety and devise some ways to minimize the attacks.

My point is that you have a lot of options and I encourage you to explore those.  There is no reason you cannot enjoy a better quality of life, but it may take some time.  You need to give new meds the time to work and learning more about your own issues can help to guide you in seeking the results you desire.



I really agree with Joe K's advice.
Getting a psychiatrist isn't easy financially. It was as much of a battle in Switzerland as it was in the states - with insurance, because it has to be justified and its difficult to get the OK to continue for months or years, as needed. 
But winning that battle is worth it.
Second, its not alway easy to get two doctors, or worse, more than two, to communicate. I had to push to make that happen. I wrote down my questions that I wanted both doctors to address and gave them each copies.  Keep that note simple and direct.


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