Summaries for Patients |

Prevention of Depression in Patients Treated for Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection With Interferon-alpha FREE

[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

The full report is titled “Escitalopram for the Prevention of Peginterferon-α2a–Associated Depression in Hepatitis C Virus–Infected Patients Without Previous Psychiatric Disease. A Randomized Trial.” It is in the 17 July 2012 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 157, pages 94-103). The authors are M. Schaefer, R. Sarkar, V. Knop, S. Effenberger, A. Friebe, L. Heinze, U. Spengler, T. Schlaepfer, J. Reimer, P. Buggisch, J. Ockenga, R. Link, M. Rentrop, H. Weidenbach, G. Fromm, K. Lieb, T.F. Baumert, A. Heinz, T. Discher, K. Neumann, S. Zeuzem, and T. Berg.

Summaries for Patients are a service provided by Annals to help patients better understand the complicated and often mystifying language of modern medicine.

Summaries for Patients are presented for informational purposes only. These summaries are not a substitute for advice from your own medical provider. If you have questions about this material, or need medical advice about your own health or situation, please contact your physician. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the American College of Physicians.

Ann Intern Med. 2012;157(2):I-40. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-157-2-201207170-00002
Text Size: A A A

What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Chronic hepatitis C is a viral infection that may lead to permanent and life-threatening liver damage. It may be effectively treated in many patients with interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha); however, this therapy often causes depression.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see whether using an antidepressant drug before starting IFN-alpha treatment can prevent depression.

Who was studied?

181 patients with hepatitis C virus infection who did not have a history of psychiatric disorders.

How was the study done?

Patients were randomly assigned to receive either the antidepressant drug escitalopram or a placebo pill for 2 weeks before starting IFN-alpha therapy. In addition, the escitalopram or placebo pills were continued throughout the IFN-alpha treatment period, which lasted either 24 or 48 weeks, depending on the type of hepatitis virus that the patients had. A psychiatrist evaluated the patients before, during, and at the end of the study to see whether depression had developed.

What did the researchers find?

Fewer patients who took escitalopram pills before and during IFN-alpha treatment developed clinically relevant depression than those who took placebo pills. In addition, major or severe depression occurred less frequently in the group that received citalopram. There did not seem to be a difference between the escitalopram or placebo groups in how well the antiviral treatment with IFN-alpha worked.

What were the limitations of the study?

Patients with a history of psychiatric disorders (including, for example, previous episodes of depression) were not included, so this study cannot tell us whether escitalopram would prevent depression in these patients. In addition, the study was not large enough to determine what effects, if any, escitalopram had on the IFN-alpha therapy.

What are the implications of the study?

Physicians and patients should discuss whether depression is a concern with IFN-alpha treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus infection and whether it might be prevented.





Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).


Submit a Comment/Letter
Submit a Comment/Letter

Summary for Patients

Clinical Slide Sets

Terms of Use

The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.


Want to Subscribe?

Learn more about subscription options

Related Articles
Related Point of Care
Topic Collections
PubMed Articles
Forgot your password?
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a reminder to the email address on record.