Depression and hepatitis C: link, treatment and more


Depression and hepatitis C are two separate conditions. However, people with hepatitis C may have an increased risk of developing depression.

Hepatitis C can increase your risk of developing mood disorders or depression. However, researchers still don’t know how the two conditions relate.

It is possible that the increased risk of depression is a side effect of some hepatitis C medications. In addition, the emotional impact or symptoms of hepatitis C may also play a role.

In this article, we review current research on the link between hepatitis C and depression. We also look at the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for both conditions.

Hepatitis C is an infection that affects the liver. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes the infection. People usually contract HCV when they come in contact with the blood of an infected person.

Acute hepatitis C occurs in 6 months to contract the virus. In some people, acute hepatitis C becomes chronic. Without proper treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause serious health problems, such as liver damage.

Depression is a serious mental health problem that changes the way people think and feel.

According to a 2017 review, hepatitis C may increase the risk of developing depression. About a third of people with hepatitis C also suffer from depression.

The review suggests that the link between hepatitis C and depression may be due to reduced quality of life and increased health care costs.

According to a 2018 article, the following symptoms can also cause depression:

  • tired
  • decreased cognitive (thinking) function
  • physical symptoms, such as nausea and joint pain
  • increased psychosocial stress

Early on, an HCV infection can have a direct effect on the brain and nervous system, which can affect mood.

Changes in the brain and nervous system can cause:

  • inflammation
  • changes in the levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals used by the nervous system to send signals)
  • hormone deregulation
  • release of substances that have a negative effect on the nervous system

These factors can then lead to changes in the functioning of nerve cells in the brain, which can affect:

  • mental state
  • emotions
  • motivation
  • Warning
  • concentration

Depression or mood disorders can also be a side effect of some hepatitis C medications.

According to a 2017 study, interferon-alpha (IFN-α) causes depression in up to 50% of people taking it.

Although researchers need more evidence, IFN-α-related depression may return even after treatment is finished. It is important for people to monitor their mood while taking IFN-alpha and after stopping treatment.

If people have hepatitis C and have any of the following symptoms consistently for at least 2 weeks, they should consider seeing a doctor, as they may be signs of depression:

  • feeling sad, anxious, or “empty”
  • feeling pessimistic or hopeless
  • irritability
  • feeling of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
  • low energy or fatigue
  • speak or move more slowly than usual
  • commotion
  • memory problems
  • difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • difficulty sleeping, waking up earlier than usual in the morning, or sleeping too much
  • changes in appetite or weight
  • thoughts of death or suicide
  • suicide attempts
  • aches, pains, headaches, or digestive problems with no apparent physical cause or which do not improve with treatment

To diagnose depression, a healthcare professional will assess a person’s symptoms and medical history. They will also perform a physical exam. Plus, they can have a blood test to make sure that no other condition or impairment is causing depression.

A healthcare professional can evaluate all the medications people take, including all treatments for hepatitis C, to determine if any treatments might be causing the depression.

Treatment options for depression may include:

If certain hepatitis C treatments cause depression, people may want to discuss other options with a doctor.

If people are taking interferon, preventive treatment with antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), is recommended. effective in the treatment of depression.

Treatment for hepatitis C can help relieve symptoms of depression. People who receive treatment for HCV to clear the infection have show improved depression and quality of life.

Treatment for hepatitis C usually involves 8-12 weeks oral medication. The treatment has a very high success rate of more than 90% and causes few side effects.

Depression is a mood disorder that can cause severe symptoms and affect the way people think, feel, and deal with everyday life.

Certain lifestyle changes can help improve mood, such as:

  • regular exercise
  • avoid alcohol
  • regular, quality sleep
  • talking to supportive friends, family, or coworkers

If a person has symptoms of depression for more than 2 weeks or has thoughts of suicide, it is important that they seek the help of a qualified healthcare professional.

If people find themselves or someone else in a life-threatening situation, they should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Research has shown that people with hepatitis C have an increased risk of depression. While researchers still don’t know how the two conditions are related, possible reasons include direct and indirect impacts of hepatitis C.

Fatigue, nausea, pain, and other physical symptoms of hepatitis C can reduce a person’s quality of life and affect their mental health.

The side effects of some hepatitis C medications, such as interferon, can also cause depression.

If people have hepatitis C and have persistent symptoms of depression, they should talk to a healthcare professional.

Completing treatment for hepatitis C is important and can help improve overall mood and quality of life.


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