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Certain side effects may occur with Sustiva, and depression appears to be one of them. In clinical studies, 5 percent of people taking the medication reported depression. Since Sustiva was combined with other drugs in these studies, however, it is difficult to know with certainty if depression was caused by Sustiva or other drugs. If you are taking Sustiva and depression occurs, notify your healthcare provider.

Is Depression a Sustiva Side Effect?

Sustiva® (efavirenz) is a prescription medication used to treat HIV and AIDS. Depression appears to be a possible Sustiva side effect. In clinical studies, depression was commonly reported in people taking the drug. This data comes from clinical trials that extensively studied Sustiva for the treatment of HIV and AIDS.

Understanding Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are designed to factor out many possible variables in order to understand whether the medicine works and to determine its possible side effects. During a study, some people are given the actual medication, while others are given a placebo (which looks like the actual medication, but does not contain any of the active ingredients). However, sometimes it is unethical to give people a placebo, such as when treating life-threatening conditions, like HIV or AIDS. Therefore, the studies of Sustiva did not compare the medication to a placebo.
In clinical studies, depression was reported in up to 5 percent of people taking Sustiva in combination with two or three other HIV medications. However, it is difficult to say with certainty that Sustiva causes depression, since these studies did not compare the drug to a placebo and since Sustiva was combined with other HIV medications. Without knowing how commonly depression occurs in a similar group of people not taking Sustiva, it is not possible to determine whether the medication actually increases the risk of depression.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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