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This is a feeling of foreboding, panic or apprehension and is frequently accompanied by physical symptoms of sweating, palpitations, agitation, nervousness, headaches and anorexia. If severe and sudden, anxiety may result in a panic attack.


Anxiety may be caused by any problem that results in fear, uncertainty or a feeling of insecurity. Examples are coping with a new diagnosis, acute illness, the prospect of ill health or social difficulties such as housing, work and finance.

Anxiety can also be a side-effect experienced during the early weeks of efavirenz treatment. If it is severe (e.g. stopping the patient from doing things or becoming very noticeable to others) or it persists for more than a few weeks after starting efavirenz, they should discuss with their doctor whether to continue with efavirenz treatment, or whether any short-term medication is available which can help to control the anxiety.

See Efavirenz for further information on dealing with anxiety, mood swings and other nervous system reactions when starting the drug.

What to do

If the anxiety concerns a practical problem then getting advice and information and dealing with this may help. If it is related to other issues then talking things over with someone who can be trusted such as a close friend or a trained counsellor can be useful. Often having more information or deciding on options on how to cope with difficulties helps to allay anxiety and reduce stress. Complementary therapies or specific relaxation techniques may help in alleviating the physical symptoms of anxiety. Drugs such as benzodiazepines including Valium are rarely of help and in the long term are addictive. They may, however, be useful in severe acute anxiety if given for short periods only.

Also see Depression in A to Z of illnesses.

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.