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HIV and Depression

Dealing with HIV and Depression when Sadness Takes Over


Updated November 01, 2009

Dealing with HIV and depression can be very difficult. Everyone has had days where they were feeling a little "blue". We all have been "down in the dumps" or felt "blah" But when these feelings last longer than a couple weeks you may be suffering from depression. Depression affects 10 million Americans each year and it's estimated that 1 in 4 adults will have at least one depressive episode in their lifetime. HIV and depression are also common companions from the time of a new HIV diagnosis.

What is Depression?

By definition, depression is an alteration in mood that affects a person's ability to function day to day. While short bursts of feeling down or gloomy are normal variations in mood, longer lasting feelings of despair are indicative of depression. In addition, depression can be manifested emotionally and physically. Changes in appearance and behavior, as well as physical illnesses such as indigestion, headaches, insomnia, and heartburn can all be part of depression. Depression is a serious illness that sometimes can be fatal.

Other HIV Related Conditions

What Causes Depression?

While all the causes of depression are not known, researchers have identified several possible causes.
  • biochemical imbalances in the brain triggered by life events such as losing a loved one, experiencing trauma, or chronic illness such as HIV.

  • family history or genetic predisposition.

Like other illnesses, there are signs and symptoms that alert to the possibility that depression may be at hand.

Page 2 discusses the signs and symptoms of depression.

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