Anxiety is a common response to stress and its symptoms can be as mild as a feeling of unease or worry, or as severe as having a panic attack.
You can explore the ways of overcoming anxiety by talking with your doctor, friends and family.
If you regularly find yourself experiencing anxiety, learning to recognise what triggers those feelings could be a good way to help reduce them. For example, if going to see your HIV doctor for your latest CD4 count makes you feel uneasy then you could research how CD4 counts work – understanding something that makes you feel helpless can help you to deal with it.
Reducing the amount of caffeine you drink and taking regular exercise can help reduce levels of anxiety.
Although everyone can experience anxiety from time to time, if you’re HIV positive you are much more likely to experience this regularly.
The Yale University AIDS Program found that as many as 38% of people with HIV will encounter an anxiety disorder.
It is perfectly normal to experience some anxiety alongside the ups and downs of managing a long-term condition such as HIV. You may find that your anxiety levels rise in the months following your diagnosis or as you begin antiretroviral treatment.
It is important to remember that anxiety itself is not a mental health disorder but a natural response to fear and uncertainty.
Anxiety has evolved to help protect us from danger, but when it becomes extreme or uncontrolled it can lead to an anxiety disorder, which can have a negative effect on your life and health.
An anxiety disorder can arise from a set of circumstances and reactions that are unique to you, so treatment usually matches this with a combination of counselling or psychotherapy and medication to help you through a tough period.
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This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 1/12/2018
Content Author: Anthony Clarke & Kathy Osborne
Current Owner: Counselling
Basu, S., Chwastiak, L.A. & Bruce, R.D. (2005) Management of Depression and Anxiety in HIV-Infected Adults. AIDS 19(18):2057-2067
Conquering Anxiety, The Body (2007)
Anxiety, NHS Choices (2010)
Top four needs of people with HIV in the UK all related to mental health, NAM aidsmap (2009)
Various people talk about their experiences of living with HIV.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
George House Trust
Equality and Human Rights Commission
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