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HSV & Anxiety

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It has been just over two years since my initial diagnosis, and I believe there is a direct correlation between the herpes virus and anxiety. And, I don't mean anxiety over my hsv status. I'm talking real, crazy, overwhelming anxiety inside my body, where I had none before.


Before my diagnosis with hsv, I was an outgoing, social, comfortable in all situations, kind of a girl. I had never in my life experienced a full blown panic/anxiety attack until after this virus took residence inside of me. I began to suffer this crazy, heart racing, panic attack, anxiety stuff that would take me over here and there. These attacks would come on without any warning, and in situations I have been in a million times. Familiar and comfortable surroundings would bring them on.


In looking back over my life, and how many times I have dealt with panic and anxiety over the last two years, I am willing to bet that at sometime in the future, scientists are going to announce the link between hsv and anxiety. It is too much of a coincidence for me.


And, again, I'm not talking about anxiety that comes over us when we sit and think about this virus and all the possible ramifications of it. I'm not talking about panic related to stress that comes from diagnosis, or realization of the life long battle that will ensue.


Does anyone else have my same experience, and do you think it's just coincidence...or do you feel an unknown, unstated, unresearched link between hsv and anxiety/panic???



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I'm with @inka - get professional help sooner rather than later... right now your body has learned to "fear" everything because you were given something that you didn't see coming. There are ways to learn to put coping mechanisms in place ... so when you are looking for a therapist, ask if they work with things like biofeedback, desensitization, distraction, etc.


We have people on here who become overly sensitized to their body (so that every itch and sensation *has* to be an outbreak in their mind) ... it's sort of a mild anxiety attack that most get over with time as they realize that they are waaaay over thinking things... they sorta get desensitized over time as they start to figure out what a real OB feels/looks like. When the anxiety is as progressed as yours, you need professional help... I would suggest you try to learn the coping mechanisms first before trying drugs ... you CAN get control of the attacks but it will take work.


I don't think that HSV does anything specifically that causes anxiety as far as changing the chemistry of the body ... I think it's more that you experienced something that blind sided you and "taught* you that life could be "dangerous" and your brain bought into it... the wonderful thing about the brain is that many things can be "reprogrammed" thanks to the neuro-plasticity of the brain.



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Hello my friend!

First off a little lesson in science/statistics. Correlation does not imply causation. This means that you have noticed when you have gotten herpes your anxiety had increased, however perhaps herpes does not cause anxiety, and anxiety does not cause herpes. A lot of people misunderstand what correlation means and sometimes scientists misunderstand society in relation to science.


Whether or not anxiety and herpes are correlated, remember herpes is one small part of your life. Everything that happens to you after being diagnosed with herpes is not always going to be a cause of having it. You might be making herpes a bigger part of your everyday life than what it truly is in reality.

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Yes I had my first panic attack (at age 24) about 3 years after I was diagnosed with HSV. I thought I was dying and/or having a heart attack. I was really hungover when it happened, so I assumed it was because of the hangover. From then until now (6 years), I've had probably 8-10 full blown panic attacks, with many milder episodes mixed in. I've never been to the doctor, because I do not want to go on benzos. When I start to feel anxiety, I try to be still, regulate my breathing, and try to remain calm and keep my mind from racing. Seems to work ok.

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Ive found the opposite with anxiety and herpes.

ive always had anxiety issues my whole life. And of course with my diagnosis of herpes too..

but in the past few months ive found myself to be more steady emotionally, more calm in desperate situations. Being diagnosed has made me more profound as a human being. I am able to think wiser and deeper with my surrounding situations.

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Do you not think that when the hsv virus is activated, it causes sensitivity in other systems in your body? When your immune system is fighting it, it is put on alert. Hypersensitive. And, I don't have anxiety every day. It hits me every now and then out of nowhere. I did talk to my Doc this morning, and she told me there could be many different factors. Hormonal changes at 40, thyroid issues, histamine intolerance due to the many seasonal and food allergies I have, etc. So, there could be something else contributing to it. I just feel like it's something I never dealt with before being diagnosed. Coincidental, sure. Related, maybe. I just think there are many more facets to this virus.

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It's likely not the VIRUS, but the fact that something happened to you that you feel powerless over that sets off the first anxiety attack... and then the body buys into it (that *everything* has the potential to be "dangerous" and then you get into a cycle of anziety attacks.




Your Dr is likely closer to the truth. It could be a number of factors. But I have done a lot of personal work and have learned that a whole lot of what I do that is in the "automatic' response spectrum comes from the reptilian and limbic parts of the brain in response to past experiences ... That when they gain control, they can make you believe that ANYTHING can be cause to panic. And those primitive parts of the brain can be "retrained" just as easily to behave differently with coping skills training and a lot of self awareness.


Look at dogs. You can have a dog that is easily set off in certain situations. But *show* it a different way to respond, and it can quickly change it's behavior, in large part because it doesn't have the part of the brain that we have that helps it to "justify" it's behavior. It just accepts that what it *thought* it needed to panic over isn't as bad as it seemed to be. THAT is the Limbic part of the brain at work. And that is the part that Therapy can help :)


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@ inka


Thanks for the suggestion


@ dancer


If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that anxiety is a subconscious response to situations we feel powerless over, and in our case was initially triggered by herpes? I dunno, I'm not sure I believe that. I'm a very laid back person, and I've never been anxious over issues that cause stress for most people- HSV diagnosis, money issues, family issues, etc etc. My panic attacks stem from no where and happen randomly- at work , driving, watching TV, etc. I'm more apt to believe HSV and anxiety is a coincidence (at least in my case), I was just replying "yes" to the OPs question about anyone suffering anxiety post-diagnosis.. Anyway, I do appreciate your insight

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my ex has that wheat allergy thing ( am not going to try to spell it this early in my coffee cycle) and it does affect production of serotonin which does affect mood. I went thru a period of depression and was on SSRIs and it was a world of difference, anxiety was far lower.

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I almost posted a discussion of the same topic a few days ago lol. So ironic.


I've only had herpes since March, but I feel I have always had some type of anxiety.

I have not disclosed to a partner yet and ever since I started seeing the guy who I am currently seeing I have had horrible anxiety where one day 3 weeks ago I had to call my mom just to talk to me because I was having an anxiety attack and I felt like I wanted to go to the hospital.


That day was my wake up call that I can't keep trying to get through this myself and I need professional help to healthily deal with this transition. So I found a psychologist and I went last week for the first time and I felt great after talking about all my feelings. She diagnosed me with anxiety, and like herpes it is very common. If you are feeling anxious I definitely recommend looking for therapy to help you 1. with your anxiety and 2. coming to peace with herpes. I personally think the link between herpes and anxiety is the person isn't comfortable or has not come to peace with the fact he/she has herpes. That's my opinion through my journey so far.

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If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that anxiety is a subconscious response to situations we feel powerless over, and in our case was initially triggered by herpes?


Yes - the thing is, many things can be the first trigger for anxiety attacks and some just plain wouldn't make sense .... for instance, PTSD is a big cause of anxiety attacks and many people with H seem to almost react in a way that would suggest a PTSD-type response. Once the body has "learned" that there are potential "dangers" that may hurt it, it may start to over-react to just about anything....


There are several ways that bodies "learn" to over react. Autoimmune responses are one ... where the bodies immune system starts to attack the body like it would a foreign object/substance. Some people develop a chemical sensitivity that is sooo bad that a mild odor from a perfume that we might barely smell will cause body aches, headaches, confused thinking, and all kinds of other very debilitating symptoms ... the causes of most of these things seems to always come down to some sort of major stressor at first and then stress will compound the issue once it's established.


So yes, I feel that Herpes *may* be one of many things that could happen that could cause anxiety attacks that later just "happen" once the body has picked up that pattern ;)

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I experienced this just last week. I woke up from a pretty normal, restful night of sleep and went to work like I always do. But something was different that day. It was that sort of "tight" feeling like there's a rubber band squeezing your heart/chest all day and you can't take a deep breath. I couldn't take a deep breath all day and it didn't feel like my heart was beating so much as it was "dancing" on top of my stomach which made me nauseous. I was completely scatter brained all day. Could not put my finger on why ever. Still cant.

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I am heeding all of the advice and suggestions by everyone, so thank you for your input.


To ShaeShae, I totally understand what you are saying. It comes on at the weirdest times, and though everyone points to pre-existing anxiety, or other factors that are contributing to my sudden experiences with anxiety post-diagnosis, I really do believe there is some weird connection between having this virus inside your body, and the onset or exaggeration of anxiety. There's something weird about how the virus changes our bodies and how we handle other things.



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It's not how the virus changes your chemistry... it's how you PERCEIVE it.


I've noticed that people that are already prone to anxiety, OCD, or hypochondria are especially affected, but there are other things that could be "triggered" by diagnosis ... religious beliefs, cultural beliefs (ie, things that make you afraid you will be shunned and rejected by your church or society), fears of losing someone close to you like a BF, past sexual experiences (ie, molestation, etc) being pulled to the surface, etc.


I think the underlying thing that gets triggered is the sudden realization that you may not be in total control of some things in your life ... you don't know when it will be back. So it's sorta like a mini PTSD type of reaction.


Combine that with how deep set the fear of rejection is (it's a very primitive response because a few hundred years ago, to be rejected by society was pretty much a death sentence for you) and you have a recipe for high, uncontrolled anxiety :(


Check this out about rejection and it may make more sense ;)


http://supporttruthanddialog.com/rejection_its-all-about-perspective/ (my blog)


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