Many people aging with HIV struggle with mental health, especially with symptoms of depression. While many do not struggle to the extent that hospitalization is needed for stability, it is important to examine reasons for multiple admissions when this is the case. This study used the Health Care Agency (HCA) databank to examine what factors may lead to re-hospitalization for major depression disorder (MDD) within 30 days of initial hospitalization when someone is also living with HIV. While the study included adults between 18-85 years old, rates of re-hospitalization among people living with HIV was found to be more common among older people. Patients living with HIV and MDD were also more likely to be re-admitted within 30 days if they were white, living in less populated areas, and or not taking HIV medications regularly.
This article reflects the importance of maintaining mental health alongside physical health. If you find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression (more information about what that looks like may be found here) it may be helpful to find a therapist. Your primary care provider or a case manager can often help with this, if desired. In acknowledging it is not always easy to find a therapist that is a good fit for you, close by, and or accepts your insurance coverage if you have it- and if not, there are some health centers which offer free or low-cost therapy to those without insurance- support groups through your local AIDS service organization, LGBTQ community center, or another non-profit may be another option. Even if you may not feel the need to see a therapist, it is still important to maintain your mental health by doing your best to not to remain isolated. While it may be tempting when lonely or depressed to go into social withdrawal, this often make things worse in the long run. Even talking to friends, family, and other loved ones about how you’re feeling can be extremely helpful. As the population of people living with HIV continues to age, there has been more of a focus on the loneliness and isolation which often comes with getting older: especially as it impacts long term survivors who were often diagnosed when an HIV/AIDS diagnosis was considered a death sentence. We must work together to both tackle the stigma around mental health and ensure access to critical services.
Source: Kompella, S., Ikekwere, J., Alvarez, C., & Rutkofsky, I. H. (2021). A Retrospective Analysis on Risk Factors for 30-day Readmission Rates in Patients Living With HIV and Severe Major Depression Disorder. Cureus, 13(6), e15894. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.15894