Background: Antiviral therapy with interferon-alpha (IFN-α) for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with increased risk for depression.
Aims: To identify clinical predictors for IFN-α-induced depression during antiviral therapy for HCV infection.
Method: Depression (defined with the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS)) was evaluated before and during antiviral treatment in 91 people with chronic HCV infection without a history of psychiatric disorders. Cognitive function was evaluated using the Trail Making Test A/B (TMT A/B). (Trial registration at ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00136318.)
Results: Depression during antiviral therapy was significantly associated with a baseline MADRS score of 3 or higher (P = 0.006). In total, 89% (n = 16) of patients who had a baseline score >0 for the single item sadness developed depression. Poor baseline performance in the TMT A (P = 0.027) and TMT B (P = 0.033) was predictive for severe depression.
Conclusions: Pre-treatment screening for subthreshold depressive and cognitive symptoms will help to identify those at risk for IFN-α-associated depression among patients with chronic hepatitis C.
Royal College of Psychiatrists.