Depression and suicide ideation in chronic hepatitis C patients untreated and treated with interferon: prevalence, prevention, and treatment

Ann Gastroenterol. Oct-Dec 2015;28(4):440-7.


Interferon-based therapies were until recently the standard of care in chronic hepatitis C (CHC), despite their side effects. We aimed to review the available data on the depression and suicide in CHC patients receiving or not antiviral therapy based on interferon treatment. A PubMed search was performed, identifying relevant papers published between 1991 and January 2015 concerning major depressive disorders and suicidal risk in patients under interferon. A total of 21 relevant papers were retrieved. Prospective studies reported depression as the most common side effect of interferon, with an incidence peak between weeks 8 and 12 of therapy. Suicide risk was analyzed in 7 of the reviewed articles, and case reports of attempted suicide were discussed. Moreover, studies have shown that pretreatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors is a good strategy for the prevention of interferon-induced depression.

Keywords: Depression; antiviral therapy; chronic hepatitis C; neuropsychiatric events; pegylated interferon; ribavirin; suicide.

Publication types

  • Review