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Bereavement reactions among homosexual men experiencing multiple losses in the AIDS epidemic
Am J Psychiatry 1992;149:1374-1379.
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The authors examined whether deaths of lovers and close friends from AIDS increased the frequency of depressive symptoms and depressive disorder in a group of homosexual men. METHOD: Two hundred seven volunteer male homosexual subjects were interviewed in New York City in 1988 and 1989. Depressive symptoms were measured with the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, administered by a clinician, and two self-report symptom checklists. Subjects were evaluated for major depression with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R. Each subject also reported the number of lovers and close friends who had died of AIDS 1) since the beginning of the epidemic in 1981 and 2) in the 6 months preceding the interview. RESULTS: Neither the overall level of depressive symptoms, the presence of specific symptom clusters, nor the presence of a diagnosed depressive disorder was related to the number of AIDS deaths a subject reported in either time frame. In contrast, bereavement reactions specific to loss, namely, preoccupation with and searching for the deceased, were more common in subjects with greater numbers of losses. The findings for depressive symptoms and major depression are not readily explained by measurement artifact, overrepresentation of asymptomatic subjects among study volunteers, habituation effects, numbness, or shallowness of attachments in the subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Changes in normative expectations regarding AIDS deaths and mobilization against AIDS within the gay community may account for the lack of association between the number of losses resulting from AIDS and the presence of depressive symptoms and depressive disorder.

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