Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology
Original Article

Depression and anxiety disorders during pegylated interferon treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis B


Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey


Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology, School of Medicine, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey


Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey

Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2017; 27: 47-53
DOI: 10.1080/24750573.2017.1293251
Read: 700 Downloads: 460 Published: 10 February 2021

Objectives: Interferon (IFN) treatment has many neuropsychiatric side effects such as depression and anxiety disorder. Although untreated depression is a major contributor to dosage reduction or premature discontinuation of the IFN treatment, it is found that depressive symptoms among patients undergoing hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment are commonly overlooked during routine clinical interviews. Besides depression, anxiety disorders are shown to affect adherence to pegylated IFN (Peg-IFN) treatment in patients with hepatitis C. Despite the occurrence of neuropsychiatric side effects of IFN treatment being widely reported in patients with hepatitis C, there are few studies studying patients infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV). The aim of this prospective study was to evaluate the incidence and risk factors of depressive and anxiety disorders that occur during Peg-IFN treatment of patients with HBV.

Methods: The sample consisted of volunteer patients who were diagnosed with HBV infection and who were decided to receive IFN treatment. During the study period, all consecutive patients with HBV infection and who would have IFN treatment were informed about the study and invited to participate. Thirty-seven chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients were recruited for the study, but four of them were excluded due to psychiatric diagnosis at the initiation of the treatment. Therefore, the sample consisted of 33 patients with CHB, meeting the inclusion criteria. The participants had psychiatric assessment before the treatment and at 1st, 3rd, 6th, and 12th months. At each visit, the subjects were assessed with Clinical Global Impressions Scale, Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD), and Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A).

Results: Among the 33 patients with HBV, 22 (66.7%) were men. Mean age was 35.97 ± 10.73 years. While follow-up, 6 patients dropped out from the study. Also, 13 patients were excluded from the study as they developed depression and/or anxiety disorder. Mean baseline HRSD and HAM-A scores were smaller than the following visits’ scores. The difference was not statistically significant only for the 12th month assessments. Totally 14 (42.4%) patients developed depression/anxiety disorder during 1 year follow-up. Six (42.86%) of them received the diagnosis at the 1st month, 3 (21.43%) at the 3rd, 4 (28.57%), at 6th months, and 1 (7.14%) at the 12th month. When we compared the patients who developed depression/anxiety disorder with the patients who did not develop any psychiatric disorder, we found that the mean baseline HRSD score (t = 2.303, p = .028) and female percentage (p = .017) were statistically significantly higher in the depression/anxiety disorder group.

Conclusions: There is an incidence of 42.4% for depression and/or anxiety disorders during Peg-IFN treatment. Females and patients with subsyndromal depressive symptoms should be referred to a psychiatrist and closely monitored especially for the first three months of the IFN treatment.

EISSN 2475-0581