FREQUENCY OF DEPRESSION AND SOMATIC SYMPTOMS IN PATIENTS ON INTERFERON ALPHA/RIBAVIRIN FOR CHRONIC HEPATITIS C
AbstractBackground: Large numbers of patients suffering from Chronic Hepatitis C (HCV) are seekingtreatment with interferon alpha (IFN) because of significant advances in overall improvement inthe course of HCV and its complications. Objectives were to estimate the frequency of depressionand somatic symptoms in patients on interferon alpha/ribavirin treatment for chronic hepatitis C.Methods: It was an observational study conducted in the out-patient Department ofGastroenterology Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore during a period of three months, i.e., fromSeptember to November 2008. One hundred consecutive patients undergoing interferon alpha/ribavirin treatment for chronic HCV were included in the study. All patients, irrespective of age,sex or duration of treatment were administered with a check list of common physical complaintsand DSM-IV symptoms for Major Depressive Episode. Results: Out of a total of 100 subjects 37were male and 63 were female. In all, 39 (39%) patients fulfilled the diagnostic criteria of DSMIV for Major Depressive Episode. Major Depression was more common in female 28 (44.4%) ascompared to male 11 (28.7%) patients. Somatic symptoms were common in all the patients butthey were reported more frequently by patients with Major Depression compared to those withoutMajor Depression. Myalgias, headache, joint pain, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain andpalpitation were the most common physical symptoms. Conclusion: Major Depression andsomatic complaints are a common consequence of interferon alpha/ribavirin treatment for chronichepatitis C. All patients receiving this treatment should be periodically assessed for the detectionof these side effects to promptly address relevant treatment options.Keywords: Interferon Alpha, Ribavirin, Hepatitis C, Depression
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