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Original Research

Treatment of Comorbid Tuberculosis and Depression

Adam J. Trenton, BA, and Glenn W. Currier, MD, MPH

Published: December 1, 2001

Article Abstract

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a leading infectious cause of mortality worldwide. While the overall prevalence of TB in the United States has declined in the general population, certain groups remain at high risk, including the homeless, those who are HIV seropositive, individuals with a history of alcohol or drug abuse, and immigrants from a country in which TB is endemic. Many recipients of psychiatric services possess 1 or more of these risk factors, and consequently TB may be overrepresented in this population. Conversely, psychiatric illness may develop subsequent to TB infection. Mood disorders seem to be particularly common in TB patients compared with those with other medical diagnoses. It is important that primary care physicians understand the high prevalence of mental illness in TB patients so that proper treatment provisions can be implemented. Likewise, it is important for psychiatrists to understand the clinical manifestations of TB so that when a patient presents with symptoms of TB proper precautions can be taken and appropriate referrals can be made. This article integrates information concerning mental illness in TB patients with diagnostic and treatment guidelines for TB. Brief suggestions are offered for the treatment of TB patients with comorbid mental illness.

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