Depression and HIV


Depression, a mental illness that causes many emotional, physical, and behavioral problems, is characterized by feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, loss of pleasure, apathy, and sometimes, difficulty functioning. When these problems persist for at least two weeks and interfere with daily activities, it is classified as clinical depression, which is also called major depressive disorder (MDD).
Patients who have MDD may experience single or recurrent episodes of depression. MDD may be mild, major or severe. The two primary symptoms of clinical depression are depressed mood and loss of interest in daily activities.
Depression is the most common psychiatric (mental) disorder among HIV patients. Some researchers estimate that 22-45% of HIV patients suffer from depression, compared to 15% of the general population. However, other researchers report no significant difference in depression rates among HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients. After controlling for factors like substance abuse or demographic information (like sexual orientation), the differences in prevalence are unclear. Therefore, researchers are uncertain whether HIV and depression are correlated.
Recovery from depression takes time. Treatment varies among patients. Patients may receive psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medications (such as Zoloft® or Elavil®). Antidepressants can take several weeks to begin working. Not everyone responds to treatment the same way. Therefore, prescriptions and dosing may need to be adjusted, depending on how the patient responds to treatment.

Related Terms

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, AIDS, antidepressants, antiretroviral therapy, apathy, ART, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, behavioral problems, cognitive psychotherapy, depression, depressive disorder, emotional imbalance, genetic predisposition, HIV, human immunodeficiency, immunocompromised, interpersonal psychotherapy, low self-esteem, major depressive disorder, MAOIs, MDD, mental status evaluation, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, neurochemicals, neurotransmitter, postpartum depression, psychiatric disorder, psychiatrist, psychologist, psychology, psychotherapy, serotonin, SAD, seasonal affective disorder, SSRIs, suicide, TCAs, tricyclic antidepressants, zidovudine.

other types of depression

Bipolar disorder I: Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression) is characterized by an alternating pattern of emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression). Bipolar I disorder involves one or more manic or mixed episodes, and often one or more major depressive episodes. A depressive episode may last for several weeks or months. Between episodes of bipolar I disorder, there may be periods of normal functioning. Symptoms may also be related to seasonal changes.
Bipolar disorder II: Bipolar II disorder involves one or more major depressive episodes along with at least one hypomanic episode. Hypomanic episodes have symptoms similar to manic episodes, but they are less severe. There may be periods of normal functioning between episodes of bipolar II disorder. Symptoms may also be related to seasonal changes.
Dysthymia: Dysthymia is a long-term, mild form of depression that lasts for at least two years. Symptoms are generally less severe than major depression. Dysthymia often begins during adolescence and continues throughout life. It is possible for patients with dysthymia to also develop major depressive episodes in the future. When this occurs, the condition is known as double depression.
Hypomania: Hypomania is a milder, less dramatic form of mania. A person may feel good, and may think that he or she is getting more things done. However, the good feeling can change into full-blown mania or depression at any time.
Postpartum depression: Postpartum depression, also known as post-natal depression, is clinical depression that develops in women within two years of giving birth.
Premenstrual dysphoriais: Premenstrual dysphoriais occurs when women experience recurrent depressive symptoms that are associated with menstrual cycles.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, is a cyclic form of depression that occurs during the winter months.