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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2004 May-Jun;26(3):237-40.

Suicidal ideation during interferon-alpha2b and ribavirin treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


Psychiatric and substance use disorders affect most patients with chronic hepatitis C and are the most common reasons for exclusion from antiviral therapies. Suicidal ideation (SI) is often cited as a reason to exclude patients from interferon-based treatment or to terminate antiviral treatment that is in progress. This study examines SI in hepatitis C patients untreated and treated with interferon-alpha2b, a medication commonly associated with depression. Fifty-five subjects with chronic hepatitis C were followed for 24 weeks with three measures of depression, each containing one item assessing SI. A total of 15/55 (27%) subjects reported SI while not on interferon therapy. Of the 42 patients treated with interferon, 18 (43%) endorsed SI at some point during antiviral treatment. However, 17/18 (94%) finished at least a 6-month course of interferon therapy. No subjects attempted suicide. Although SI in some form is common in hepatitis C patients, in most cases it is mild in nature. With adequate support most patients can successfully complete a full course of antiviral treatment.

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