1.Reach out. If intense sadness and loss of interest or joy in normal activities last more than two weeks, friends or family can listen and lend advice. (Listeners: Encourage your loved one to see their doc or a therapist. Offer to accompany them.)
2. Don’t assume. It may not be “all in your head.” Depression affects 22 to 45 percent of HIVers, and its fatigue, lethargy and sleep disturbances can spring from such physical problems as low testosterone, nutritional deficiencies, some HIV-related illnesses—or your meds. Your doc should investigate all possibilities.
3. Find yourself…a mental-health pro with experience treating HIVers (ask your doc—or other HIVers—for a referral). Therapy and antidepressants can work wonders. Your shrink should be savvy about drug interactions and other HIV-specific issues.
4. Call 911 as a last resort. If you feel suicidal or if you’re consistently not eating—and have nowhere else to turn—an ambulance will lead you to help.
5. Take heart. Thousands of HIVers have successfully kicked depression with a little help from their friends, psychotherapy, testosterone shots, antidepressants or a med change. As bad as it may seem now, you, too, can triumph.