Depression in patients with HIV infection

Scott R. Penzak, Y. Sunila Reddy, Sara R. Grimsley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


The epidemiology, clinical features, and drug treatment of depression in HIV-infected patients are discussed. The lifetime prevalence of depression in patients infected with HIV has been estimated at 22-45%. The signs and symptoms of depression are similar in HIV-infected and noninfected patients, but patients with HIV infection may more frequently have sleep and appetite disturbances. Diagnosis should focus on affective or cognitive depression symptoms that reflect mood state alone. Patients with a history of depression, homosexual men, women, and i.v. drug abusers are among HIV-infected individuals who may be at increased risk for depression. Depression may alter the course of HIV infection by impairing immune function or influencing behavior. Depression my contribute to nonadherence to therapy. Antidepressant therapy is effective in most HIV- positive patients with major depression. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) have produced response rates as high as 89%, but their usefulness has been limited by adverse effects. Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and other non-TCAs have also demonstrated efficacy and are generally better tolerated. Psychostimulants have improved mood, cognition, and energy level, and androgens have been used for their anabolic effects. The systemic concentrations of antidepressants may be altered by coadministered drugs that affect their cytochrome P-450 isoenzyme-mediated metabolism; in turn, the metabolism and toxicity of certain antiretrovirals may be affected by antidepressants. Guidelines on the treatment of depression in the general population may be applied to patients with HIV infection. Depressive disorders are prevalent among patients with HIV infection but often respond to a variety of treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-389
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2000


  • Androgens
  • Antidepressants
  • Depression
  • Dosage schedules
  • Epidemiology
  • HIV infections
  • Protocols
  • Psychotherapeutic agents


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