Two-year prospective study of major depressive disorder in HIV-infected men

J. Hampton Atkinson, Robert K. Heaton, Thomas L. Patterson, Tanya Wolfson, Reena Deutsch, Stephen J. Brown, J. Summers, Andres F Sciolla, R. Gutierrez, Ronald J. Ellis, Ian Abramson, John R. Hesselink, J. Allen McCutchan, Igor Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Scopus citations


Objective: The risks and factors contributing to major depressive episodes in HIV infection remain unclear. This 2-year prospective study compared cumulative rates and predictors of a major depressive episode in HIV-infected (HIV+) men (N = 297) and uninfected (HIV-) risk-group controls (N = 90). Methods: By design participants at entry were without current major depression, substance dependence or major anxiety disorder. Standardized neuromedical, neuropsychological, neuroimaging, life events, and psychiatric assessments (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM III-R) were conducted semi-annually for those with AIDS, and annually for all others. Results: Lifetime prevalence of major depression or other psychiatric disorder did not differ at baseline between HIV+ men and controls. On a two-year follow-up those with symptomatic HIV disease were significantly more likely to experience a major depressive episode than were asymptomatic HIV+ individuals and HIV-controls (p < 0.05). Episodes were as likely to be first onset as recurrent depression. After baseline disease stage and medical variables associated with HIV infection were controlled, a lifetime history of major depression, or of lifetime psychiatric comorbidity (two or more psychiatric disorders), predicted subsequent major depressive episode (p < 0.05). Neither HIV disease progression during follow-up, nor the baseline presence of neurocognitive impairment, clinical brain imaging abnormality, or marked life adversity predicted a later major depressive episode. Limitations: Research cohort of men examined before era of widespread use of advanced anti-HIV therapies. Conclusions: Symptomatic HIV disease, but not HIV infection itself, increases intermediate-term risk of major depression. Prior psychiatric history most strongly predicted future vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-234
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • AIDS
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Major depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)

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    Atkinson, J. H., Heaton, R. K., Patterson, T. L., Wolfson, T., Deutsch, R., Brown, S. J., Summers, J., Sciolla, A. F., Gutierrez, R., Ellis, R. J., Abramson, I., Hesselink, J. R., McCutchan, J. A., & Grant, I. (2008). Two-year prospective study of major depressive disorder in HIV-infected men. Journal of Affective Disorders, 108(3), 225-234.