Hepatitis C infection, antiviral treatment and mental health: a European expert consensus statement

Martin Schaefer, Lucile Capuron, Astrid Friebe, Crisanto Diez-Quevedo, Geert Robaeys, Sergio Neri, Graham R Foster, Achim Kautz, Daniel Forton, Carmine M Pariante
Journal of Hepatology 2012, 57 (6): 1379-90
Mental health problems frequently occur in chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and during antiviral treatment with pegylated interferon-alpha (PegIFNα) and ribavirin. Depression is one of the most important complications during antiviral treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection. However, an increased prevalence of depression, fatigue, and cognitive disturbances has also been reported in untreated HCV-positive patients. Patients with psychiatric disorders or drug addiction also have an increased risk of HCV infection. Furthermore, because of possible drug-drug interactions, new antivirals administered together with PegIFNα and ribavirin may complicate psychiatric side effect management, even if no specific psychiatric adverse events are known so far for these new drugs. The European liver patient's organization (ELPA) organised a European expert conference to review the literature and develop expert recommendations for the management of mental health problems in HCV infected patients. This paper results from the output of the 2011 EASL meeting and subsequent dialogue with patient groups and relevant experts in Europe. It summarises the current knowledge of HCV infection and the brain; prevalence, course, and neurobiology of IFN-α associated psychiatric side effects; possible risk factors for IFN-α associated depression and suicide attempts; psychiatric management of HCV infected patients before and during antiviral treatment; prevention of IFN- α associated psychiatric side effects; and psychiatric aspects of the new antivirals. The summarised current knowledge about mental health changes before and during antiviral treatment should improve interdisciplinary management of HCV infected patients.

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