According to a study, the patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) incur a higher chance of dying from depressive symptoms compared to patients without HIV. Depression affects approximately 20-40% of HIV patients making it the most frequently reported mental health condition in people living with the virus. Depressive disorders have previously been linked to augmented mortality in people with chronic diseases, including heart disease, end-stage renal disease and diabetes.
These comorbidities have made the management of any of the following conditions really challenging for caregivers and even more challenging for patients. Patients are subjects of many drug-drug interactions and adverse drug reactions since these patients often have to use multiple medications. Another way the disorder is impacting the healthcare system is increased labor and institutional cost. While it true that depression presents with many other pathological disorders for which numerous studies have confirmed, the association between depression and infectious diseases on the other hand has not been extensively studied.
Recently, in a study aimed to investigate the link among the wide range of depressive disorders or symptoms, HIV status of a patient and mortality, scientists discovered that symptoms of depression are associated with death among veterans with HIV but not among those without HIV infection.
The researchers were able to gather data from participants of the Veteran’s Aging Cohort Study. The researchers were able to compare the risk of death among Veterans who were depressed to those not suffering with depression. They then studied the relationship between depression and death among those infected with HIV to those without HIV. Depression was measured in two ways using depressive symptoms questionnaire and clinical diagnostic codes.
Among those with HIV infection, they were able to discover a 23% increased mortality risk associated with elevated depressive symptoms ascertained by the questionnaire but no significantly increased mortality risk when depression was ascertained by the codes. For HIV-uninfected people, there was a 6% increased mortality risk associated with depressive disorders measured by the codes but no significant increased mortality risk for elevated depressive symptoms assessed by the questionnaire.
It is important to screen for and treat depression particularly among those living with HIV due to the observation that important therapeutic progress, improved life-expectancy, and improved quality of life have been made through intervention with lifesaving antiretroviral. The results of their findings strengthened the need to assess and treat depressive symptoms and major depressive disorder in patients with and without HIV infection with the aim of reducing mortality risk. The researchers were able to discover the clinical guidelines recommending routine screening for depressive symptoms, there is varying success in implementation resulting in under diagnosis of depression among people with HIV infection.