An article appearing in the January 2005 issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity suggests that developing depression while on interferon-alpha plus ribavirin may impact how well the medications work.
In a study conducted in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, Charles L. Raison, MD, Andrew Miller, MD, and colleagues, observed that patients who develop depressive symptoms during interferon-alpha plus ribavirin therapy were significantly less likely to have cleared the hepatitis C virus from their blood following six months of treatment.
"Hepatitis C infection affects three to five million Americans, and is the leading cause of liver transplantation," said Dr. Raison. "With advances in treatment, 40-50 percent of patients can be cleared of the virus. Unfortunately, however, the current treatment for hepatitis C – interferon-alpha plus ribavirin – produces a high rate of psychiatric side effects that have long been recognized as impediments to successful antiviral therapy. In the past we primarily worried that depression interfered with quality of life, or would cause patients to stop taking the medicine. These new data suggest that even if patients stay on treatment, they are less likely to have a good outcome if they develop depression."
Kathi Baker | EurekAlert!
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