DHEA Relieves Mild Depression in HIV-Positive Adults

Researchers suggest that DHEA may also benefit other adult patients with mild depression

FRIDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) may improve subsyndromal major depressive disorder in HIV-positive adults, according to a study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Judith G. Rabkin, Ph.D., of the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, and colleagues studied 145 HIV-positive adults with subsyndromal depression or dysthymia. They randomly assigned the patients to receive either DHEA or placebo and assessed outcome by using intent-to-treat analysis, followed by completer analysis.

The researchers report that DHEA was superior to placebo in the intent-to-treat analysis, with a response rate of 56% versus 31%. In the completer analysis, the response rate was 62% for the DHEA group compared with 33% for the placebo patients. The investigators found few adverse events and observed no significant changes in CD4 cell count or HIV RNA viral load in either group.

"Given the high acceptance rate and low side-effect profile for DHEA in this group of patients with HIV/AIDS, nearly all of whom were taking multiple concurrent medications, it may be appropriate to evaluate the efficacy of DHEA in other groups of physically ill patients in which mild depression is common," the authors conclude. "For patients who are unwilling to take antidepressants, who express a strong preference for an 'alternative' treatment, and who have nonmajor depression, DHEA may be a reasonable choice."

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