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HIV and depression can go hand in hand. When a person has any serious illness, it is always a possibility that he or she may develop depression. Therefore, it is important that a trained health professional recognize the symptoms and pursue treatment for the depressed individual. Treatment options for people with HIV and depression include medications, herbal remedies, and "talk therapy."

HIV and Depression: An Introduction

Research has enabled many people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), to lead fuller, more productive lives. As with other serious illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease or stroke, however, HIV often can be accompanied by depression, an illness that can affect mind, mood, body, and behavior. Treatment for depression helps people manage both their HIV and depression, thus enhancing survival and quality of life.

Symptoms of Depression in an HIV Patient

Despite the enormous advances in brain research in the past 20 years, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Although as many as one in three persons with HIV may suffer from depression, the warning signs are often misinterpreted. People with HIV, their families and friends, and even their physicians may assume that depressive symptoms are an inevitable reaction to being diagnosed with HIV. But depression is a separate illness that can and should be treated, even when a person is undergoing treatment for HIV or AIDS. Some of the symptoms of depression could be related to HIV, specific HIV-related disorders, or medication side effects. However, a skilled health professional can:
  • Recognize the symptoms of depression
  • Inquire about their duration and severity
  • Diagnose the disorder
  • Suggest appropriate treatment.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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