Jul 6, 2008
What is a natural alternative to lexapro or other antidepresants while taking atripla? Thanks for your time and effort!
Response from Dr. Horwath
Atripla is a fixed-dose combination of efavirenz, emtricitabine and tenofovir. Efavirenz is known to be associated with the development of depression. Depending on the severity and duration of the depression symptoms, there are several different ways to approach this problem. One possibility is choosing a different antiretroviral. Of course, you need to discuss this with your HIV doctor, and it's a decision that needs to weigh the risks and benefits of trying a different antiretroviral.
Treating the depression is another alternative. Lexapro (escitalopram) is a very effective antidepressant. In fact, there are no natural alternative treatments that are anywhere near as effective as the currently available antidepressants.
One herbal supplement that is often used to treat depression is St. John's Wort. This substance has problematic interactions with several antiretrovirals. It induces an enzyme that decreases the levels of protease inhibitors, nevirapine and efavirenz and can actually make these antiretrovirals ineffective. For this reason, St John's Wort should not be used by people who are taking antiretroviral medications.
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