Drug Safety

, Volume 34, Issue 8, pp 623–639

Safety Considerations in Drug Treatment of Depression in HIV-Positive Patients

An Updated Review
  • Crystal C. Watkins
  • Andrew A. Pieper
  • Glenn J. Treisman
Review Article

DOI: 10.2165/11592070-000000000-00000

Cite this article as:
Watkins, C.C., Pieper, A.A. & Treisman, G.J. Drug-Safety (2011) 34: 623. doi:10.2165/11592070-000000000-00000


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most prevalent illnesses associated with HIV infection, and negatively affects medication adherence, disease progression and mortality in HIV disease. Co-morbid treatment of major depression in HIV disease is the optimal therapeutic approach, but discriminating MDD from normal fluctuations in mood state, personality or physiology is difficult. Definitive diagnosis of MDD is critical for drug safety and for avoiding unnecessary exposure to psychotropic medications. HIV patients respond to antidepressant treatment like the general population, and medication adverse effects and patient adherence are the best predictors of treatment outcome.

This review attempts to assist the medical provider with the diagnosis and treatment of MDD in HIV patients. We outline the initial steps in screening and psychiatric referral, the antidepressants that are particularly useful in HIV-infected patients, and the adverse effects and pharmacological strategies for overcoming potential barriers to medication adherence. Potential interactions between the various classes of antidepressants and HIV/antiretroviral therapy, as well as management of HIV medication-related psychiatric adverse effects, are also discussed.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Crystal C. Watkins
    • 1
  • Andrew A. Pieper
    • 2
  • Glenn J. Treisman
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Psychiatry and BiochemistryUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Johns Hopkins HospitalBaltimoreUSA