AIDS and psychiatry

It has been established that AIDS does not only affect the immune system of the body but also affects the central nervous system and leads to serious mental changes. The relationship between psychiatry and AIDS is one of the fields intensively investigated in our times. The most prominent psychiatric disorder associated with AIDS is dementia. This disorder is caused by the direct effect of AIDS on the nervous system. Of course we must not forget depression and anxiety disorder which are triggered by social and psychological factors.

The main problem is that the antigenic particulars of the virus that causes AIDS, are constantly changing. This is the reason why it has not been possible to develop a vaccine.

The disease emerged towards the end of the 1980’s. Because the first reported cases were amongst homosexuals it was initially believed that the disease was a disease of homosexuals. Later on it became clear that the disease could not only transmitted through anal intercourse but also through blood transfusions. In 1983, cases were recorded in the heterosexual population. In 1984 it was established that AIDS is a viral disease (Human Immune Deficiency Virus-HIV).

Interestingly, it is possible to see EEG changes even before there is any dementia or mental pathology. A general slow-down (an increase in theta and slow alpha waves) can be detected. This enlightening information can only be obtained through EEG recordings.

Suicide is a particularly important risk amongst AIDS related psychiatric problems. The risk of suicide in male patients with AIDS is 20-30 times higher than in the rest of the population.

Education, anti-depressive treatment and interventions that improve cognitive functions are recommended. In cases of agitation, particular care must be taken before using antipsychotics as this group of drugs has a larger number of side effects.