Meds, Mind, Body & Benefits > Mental Health & HIV

Depression/Anxiety/Bi-Polar Sex Addiction

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Hi All,

I am curious about other's experience with depression and anxiety. NB Long winded post ahead. I understand that I need to discuss the below with my doc, and I will, but I'm curious whether any body might have had some similar experiences on any aspect of the below.

I've had some issues which until now, I've not really thought about describing  as anxiety, and I think this goes back to before diagnosis.

As an example, I'd find myself travelling an hour with the intention of catching up with a friend, and then finding myself unable to go. I know thoughts in my head were along the lines of how I can sometimes be socially awkward, so rather than put myself in a position where I felt like that, it was easier to avoid. I can solely attribute it to that reasoning alone, I do have a bit of a thing for anonymous sex, and that was very much on my radar at that point. I don't know that sex addicition is an apt term, or even widely accepted: but I do know that sex is something that gets in the way of the ordinary day to day things, so in that sense, I feel it is a bit of an addiction. I've seen that some doctors have found that sex addiction and bi polar are often related, and I do have a sustained history of heavy cannabis use which I'm told can impact  on your mental health.

I was on a script for smoking champix. i found whilst on that, I felt better equipped to deal with things that popped up that might annoy/upset/defeat me. I wondered whether that was by way of the fact it was initially developed as a anti depressent and there might be some undiagnosed issues going on. I've since found out that it's more to do with the way it interacts with the nicotine receptors, and probably it's more along the lines of not feeling like smoking, and then feeling successful and feeling happy about progress rather than failing again. (as a side note, have since taken up snoking again :-X)

More recently at Christmas time, I found myself doing the same thing (minus the sex) I was invited to a christmas dinner, I rocked up, was a few minutes later, saw that people were seated and literally took one step forward, one step back, for about 10 minutes before going, right well I'm obviously not going in.

I transitioned to full time study at the start of this year, and the day before I had this tense-ness across my chest that just wouldn't subside.

I'm on Atripla, and I've read there are in some cases issues in relating to depression and anxiety.

I spoke briefly with the doc about the above, and he's given me a k10 questionaire thing and from what I can gather, based on those answers I'm at high risk. I don't necessarily attribute this to the atripla, but I do wonder with whether the HIV and diagnosis are related. I do find myself talking of myself poorly under the guise of being self deprecating. The thing is, successful and/or happy people, might have a sense of humour about themselves but don't necessarily put shit on themselves.

I'm reluctant to seek out more medication and pills to pop, and other diagnoses to deal with. But if they can help me to be a little happier, or more connected with life and in control of life rather than life ruling me, then why not?

Any experiences to share? Advice on Mental Health issues (aside from -talk to your doctor, doing that next week)

Jeff G:
Two things stand out in your post , one is that  Chantix, also known as varenicline, was developed by Pfizer pharmaceutical company as a way for smokers to break their addiction to Nicotine. Although it works similarly to an antidepressant, it is not approved for this use. The other thing is the Atripla .

Since you noticed an improvement while on Champix and the fact that Atripla has is its issues and CNS and mental side effects I would ask to be referred to Psychiatrist if your not already seeing one . A Psychiatrist will know the pharmacology involved in your situation and will be able to advise your doctor .

With your history I'm surprised your doctor helped choose Atripla for you . It may well be a factor here and fits with your desire for less medication instead of more .   

Hi Marc,

I've moved your thread from the Living forum to the Mental Health forum as the Mental Health forum is a better fit for your subject matter. It also helps people with similar issues find a thread relevant to their concerns.

I don't have much to add to what Jeff said, other than the fact that Champix is well-known for causing depression and suicidal ideation in some people (it did that to me), so I'm surprised you had such a positive experience with it regarding anxiety/depression.

Champix didn't help me stop smoking - the only way it would have made me stop was if I went through with the thoughts of suicide that started going through my head after about two weeks of use. Can't smoke when you're six-feet-under! ;)

Speaking of which, there were several books out  by a guy called Allen Carr (The Easy Way to Stop Smoking) but the books were written in such a dry, boring matter that the only way it helped me was.... well, put it this way. You can't smoke when you're fast asleep! ;D

You might want to check out some of the threads in the Treatments forum that talk about Atripla - and more specifically Sustiva, because it's the Sustiva in Atripla that causes depression and anxiety (and other problems) in some people.

In fact one thread you should definitely read is Jeff's The Sustiva/Atripla Thread where folks talk about their experiences on Sustiva. It may be an eye-opener for you.

Please do discuss this Sustiva/Atripla thing with your doctor and possibly look into trying another combo that does not include Sustiva. There are plenty of options these days and there is no reason to stick with Sustiva if it is causing you problems.

Good luck and keep us posted!


Hi Guys,
Thanks for the thoughts and info

Jeff, In relation to 'my history' It's not something I've gone into great detail with with my doctor before, neither my GP or HIV specialist.

I definitely got the sense when I was attending a particular doctor, that as much as they are kind and considerate and want to see you do well blah blah blah, they are there because it's a reasonably easy job for them. The definite impression I got for someone like myself was well, just chuck him on Atripla.

I'd not relayed the stories in relation to anxiety because it's only now that I'm beginning to see that is what it could be, whereas before I just saw it as some kind of ordinary situation that most people deal with on a day to day basis, it just got the better of me sometimes.

I'd not sort out another doctor there previously when I think in reality I probably should have. When I was first diagnosed not quite 3 years ago, there was a bit more info coming out in support of meds as early as possible, and I raised this point and was pretty quickly dismissed as not having the same level of understanding around the decision. I get that they are knowledgeable, but the reality is I should have been in a position to be able to press the point without being made to feel a fool. This didn't inspire any confidence. I did notice that when med students were in the room, there was all kinds of talk about different combinations but that all fell to the wayside when we were alone. And I understand that it's been very effective for me and at some level, reasonably well tolerated. But it didn't inspire me to confide and discuss issues, because I felt they thought I was just a bit of a drama queen.

One thing I did find quite bizarre was that when I asked her to set me up with a regular gp, as I rarely get sick and just went to a medical centre when I needed a day off or an extension for a uni assignment. He asked something relating to bi polar and it seemed rather pointed, rather than incidental to our conversation. It made me wonder whether that was something the hiv doctor had mentioned to him in referring me. who knows.

I've moved rural now and that means I really only have the choice of a single doctor. I see her in a fortnight so I'll be able to suss her out and see whether I can't develop a meaningful relationship from the ground up with her, otherwise my option is to double my travel time, which is hard as a poor uni student, but might be something well worth considering if I don't feel supported by the new doc.

I have read the Allen Carr book. I hear you. Friends had spoken highly of it, I picked it up and I thought that is so ridiculously boring I couldn't even finish it.

In relation to the sustiva, the thing is these issues where on my radar well before diagnosis, even if by another name. I'm reluctant to change meds because it works for me, and I don't really potentially want to have worry about developing resistance if I can avoid it. But I also have quality of life to consider and that certainly needs to be a part of the decision making process.

Once again, thanks for the comments. I've muddled my way through a long post again. Cheers for the patience.

Mark, I honestly wouldn't worry about resistance.  I had to switch off Sustiva due to depression and anxiety issues.  I doubt, unless you have resistance now, that you would develop that.  I would put mental health as priority when there are other combos you can try.  This is just my two cents.  Of course you have to make up your own mind.  Good luck, whatever you decide.


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