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Health Anxiety OMG its real

Hello All,

This is my 1st post in this forum, I am 45 years old male in US. Here is my story and need recommendations on how to tackle it...

2 years back I had oral lichen planus, its an autoimmune disorder.. Luckily mine was not that bad but after reading about it that it can cause oral cancer I am suffering from anxiety. this year i had similar whitish lines on my checks and toungue, i had 3 biopseys done all came back normal.. In total I must have had 10 biopsies in last 2 years... Weird.....

Then this year, at regular dr's annual checkup, nurse came in to check my blood sugar, she used clean lancet but did not wear gloves... My mind went crazy what if she had cuts on her hand did she expose me to HIV or Hep....

That event has caused some serious challenges, I am now extremely concerned about HIV... every small poke or cut make me very anxious and worried.. I have started to wear gloves when i go to grocery story due to concern that what if i get cut and it bleeds and exposes me.. Looks I am married for last 23 years to lovely wife I do not mess around atall dont do drugs leave a very simple life so chances of me catching HIV are very low to nil but still i am comsumed with these thoughts.

Anyone has any ideas on how i can overcome this situation.. Its sucks as every morning i get up worried and depressed thinking about all events that might have happened or not happened (imagining about pin poke or stapler cut) that may lead to HIV infection....

Sorry for long post, is anyone on this forum dealing with similar situation??
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134578 tn?1716963197
You said in your response to specialmom that you are thinking of going for an HIV test in 6 weeks, but why? You haven't been exposed. You are showing no symptoms. All a test will do is convince your worried mind that this is real because you're having a test. But it's more of a phobia. The anxiety is real, but the illness you have settled on to obsess about is not.

I work in the DNA/Paternity community, and hear all the time from young women who are obsessively worried that the wrong guy is the dad. One of the things those women will frequently do is repeated DNA tests, one not being enough when you are anxious, apparently. Are they relieved and pleased when they find out the right guy is the baby's dad? No. They are just as anxious as ever, if not more. The prenatal versions of these tests cost almost two thousand dollars, and sometimes the woman will even test more than once (one woman also made the partner she didn't want to be the dad, who had had a vasectomy, test to be sure his vasectomy had worked). Why doesn't the test relieve their worry? (And, in fact, increase it because it's so important-seeming that it gives weight to the worry -- it MUST be legitimate because I'm getting this expensive test!) It doesn't ease their minds because the thing they are anxious about is in fact something else, not paternity. When the mind can't rest due to serious but hard-to-pin-down anxiety, it hates that. So, it thinks of something that is unlikely but specific, and lets the anxiety rest on that. The problem is, solving for that thing doesn't solve the anxiety because that thing is not really the problem.

My guess is, deep down, you really do know you don't have HIV. But it's easier to let the stress settle there than it is to identify some of the more existential worries we have as human beings. That's why the recommendations to deal with the anxiety are so good. If you get to what is really giving you such a dose of anxiety, you will find that your worry about HIV is shown to be straw man that it really is.
Helpful - 0
Here's a good short article about the topic of health anxiety, and since it features someone who was worried about getting an aneurysm and not HIV, it might help you see the pattern more clearly than if it was writing about HIV, which could seem too close to home to read about dispassionately. A place to start, anyway. :-)
973741 tn?1342342773
I understand health anxiety.  I have it myself.  I was just discussing this last night with a friend of mine who also has this.  We both had what felt like a traumatic experience with our health years ago so that now we do things like avoid doctors out of fear.  Sigh.  But, here's kind of the difference. I can have an almost near panic attack prior to going to the doctor or having a test.  But once I do it?  I feel great.  Then I'm less afraid to go again and get back on track.  I just went to a doctor's appointment that I'd put off for a long time yesterday.  Feel great!  Your situation is a little different.  Because . . .   you have been to the doctor. You have been told that needle sticks don't cause HIV (injections do, that's why sharing needles is a risk.  Needles tips are exposed to air so if they stick you, any virus would be deactivated).  You also have had numerous biopsies and the issue you worry about with those has not come to fruition.  So, you're given reliable and accurate data that your fear is not your reality.  But your anxiety won't let you accept this.  Sooo, what is the real issue here? Hiv?  Your autoimmune potential disorders?  Nope. Anxiety. That's also a disease and that is also greatly impacting you.  So, how to overcome the situation?  TREAT YOUR ANXIETY.  If it is mild, perhaps it will go quickly.  But I'd consider therapy with a licensed psychologist.  CBT therapy may be great for you.  You may also need medication which is for you and the therapist who in a lot of places can not prescribe but work with psychiatrists who can.  That can be determined later.  But you need help with this as the anxiety is impacting you negatively. My health anxiety feels terrible.  I understand how uncomfortable those feelings are.  For some, it's enough to make us physically sick.  If you view the anxiety as the issue, perhaps you can move past your other health worries.  
Helpful - 0
Thank you for detailed post. Never had this issue before on anxiety. It just hit me out of no where and was triggered by one event when nurse poked me with a lancet without gloves to get my blood sugar.

I have read about CBT sessions can someone tell me how they work also does insurance typically cover these sessions . I am in US and have health insurance via my employer   I have also read about SSRI drugs for anxiety do they actually help I am afraid that they work by changing the chemical balance of serotonin and may have withdrawals if stopped.

Last question how long does it take for  CBT to work. Also I am seriously thinking about getting tested for HIV at 6 weeks maybe a negative result will assure me and can help.
Also I have seen that if I don’t think about these topics when I wake up my day goes really well. So may be that’s the trick also need to keep myself busy empty mind is devils workshop
So, for insurance, the best thing to do is to go directly for them.  Our insurance works with a third party on mental health related things but right now, depending on your insurance, they may have lots of 'extra' things for mental health. Covid has been rough on a lot of people.  I have had two types of counselors, one in network and one out that actually didn't accept insurance.  You know, if you can, pick a doctor that works with your insurance.  Makes you feel better. It's a copay of varying amounts then usually.  Worth it and if you have a flexible spending account, you can use that.  Some are doing online therapy right now.  I don't think it is 'as good' but it still works.  That's up to your comfort level. CBT is just a form of therapy that therapists use, the copay is the same for the therapist whether they use it or not.  If you are interested in this type of therapy, when looking for a therapist, verify they do it.  (lots do!).  Maybe that will be enough for you.  I'd start there.  The decision about medication is very personal.  It can be added later if you and your therapist feels it is necessary.  Most therapists can not prescribe but are affiliated with a doctor who can.  Like a psychiatrist.  SSRI's are taken by many people successfully but for some they have side effects.  Again, that's on a person to person basis.  You often hear a lot from those who have had a bad experience as they are often much more vocal than those who have had a good experience.  But since you are leary about medication, take that part slow.  I agree staying busy is helpful!  Occupied time keeps the mind from turning on the anxiety loop.  How long CBT takes is often 6 to 8 weeks (one to two sessions a week) and for some they may need longer. They are helping to reshape the way you think and your thought patterns and giving you skills and tools to use.  
CBT, as with all talk therapy, takes as long as it takes and as long as it takes for the particular therapist to do it the way that therapist does it.  No form of talk therapy has a time schedule unless you go to a center that just does CBT.  I don't know if there are that many of those anymore, they were very popular in urban areas when CBT first became popular.  Usually at those centers you'd see a psychiatrist who created the program and then for the CBT training you'd see a social worker who obtained a counseling certificate.  But these days most of those centers no longer exist.  If you're going to do CBT, I wouldn't see just any therapist who claims to do it.  I'd see someone who just does it.  I've done it both ways, and a therapist who doesn't specialize in it isn't usually very good at it, so do consider that like any other health treatment, the more the practitioner does it the better at it they get.  Where you live will answer if you can get it through insurance.  If you live in most major urban areas in the US most mental health practitioners don't take any insurance at all.  That leaves the ones who do being the ones who can't get their own patients and they are usually not the best.  So it depends on where you live if that's the case or not.  Where I live, very few psychiatrist and psychologists take insurance.  No CBT practitioners take it.  Where you live they might.  So you'll have to investigate.  Also, therapy, like medication, doesn't work most of the time.  That doesn't mean either medication or therapy don't work, it means the particular med or the particular therapist you see might not work for you, which means a bit of trial and error, which also makes it hard to tell you how long it might take as it might take more than one try to find the therapist who is right for you just as it might take trail and error to find a med that works for you.  Your concerns about medication are valid, they will inevitably have downsides.  They can be very hard to stop taking.  They can also be really easy to take and stop taking.  We're different, and we also have different reactions to different meds.  My own opinion is, if you're still functioning in life okay, try to fix it with therapy, as meds don't fix it, they just medicate it.  You're right, they do alter the way your brain normally works.  But if you're not functioning okay, therapy can take a long time or not work at all and medication when it works is usually much quicker and can stabilize you so you can move on.  If you need it, you need it.  If you don't, you don't.  You know best about that.  Although the above says you hear more about the negative because those folks are more vocal, this ignores that at this point we've been living with antidepressants a very long time so we know what the downsides are.  There are even studies about the percentage of people who take them get them.  You no longer need to consult websites that were created before this research existed and all we knew was what pharmaceutical companies were telling us.  And I've seen a lot of those websites, and they are also filled with success stories.  If you want to do a lot of homework, you can dig deep into the weeds of it, but it will still come down to, as it does with any illness, do you need something or not.  Because if it's necessary, you gotta do what you gotta do.  Peace.

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