Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Perspective

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Perspective

Article excerpt

Because of the prior "death sentence" perception, stigma, and neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with HIV infection, providing psychiatric care to these patients can be a unique challenge. But we can make their quality of life better.

The psychiatrist should begin by establishing a good working rapport with the patient. It is also important to understand that the patients are likely mourning the death of the person they used to be and that the mourning process will wax and wane.

In terms of treatment, there is no reason to believe that antidepressants are any less effective in an HIV-positive patient population. However, having a potentially fatal disease like HIV is something to be depressed and anxious about.

Contrary to public belief, antidepressants do not have the capacity to make someone happy when faced with a bummer like having HIV For example, an HIV patient might develop a clinical depression that is successfully treated, but might still be grappling with real issues of stigma, abandonment by family and friends, fears of dying, unemployment, and homelessness.

So it is important to independently address the thoughts and fears that occur in the life of an HIV-infected patient and the symptoms of a treatable depression or anxiety state. …

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