Interferon treatment is not associated with a worsening of psychiatric symptoms in patients with hepatitis C


Correspondence: Assoc. Prof.RtMulder Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine, PO Box 4345, Christchurch, New Zealand. Email:


Aim: To study prospectively the psychiatric side effects of interferon-α in patients with hepatitis C.

Methods: Sixty-three consecutive patients at a hepatitis clinic were recruited. All were assessed using a psychiatric interview (SCID) and monitored using a self-reporting psychiatric symptom questionnaire (SCL-90).

Results: Patients on interferon did not suffer a drop in mood or an increase in anxiety or irritability. The subgroup with past depression also did not suffer an increase in depressive symptoms. No patients attempted suicide.

Conclusions: The risk of serious psychiatric symptoms when being treated with interferon-α may not be high. Psychiatric illness or the possibility of psychiatric complications should not be used as a reason to refuse this treatment to patients with hepatitis C.

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