have developed a consensus statement on hepatitis C and mental health.
Published in the online edition of the Journal
of Hepatology, the wide-ranging document assesses evidence concerning the
effect of hepatitis C infection and its treatment on the brain and mental
health. It also reviews the evidence for the prevalence and risk factors of psychiatric problems in hepatitis C-infected people and makes recommendations
regarding the treatment and care of patients with mental health problems.
An estimated 170
million individuals are infected with hepatitis C worldwide. Chronic infection
can lead to permanent liver damage and death. There is a high prevalence of
psychiatric problems in people with hepatitis C. Some evidence suggests that
the infection itself may be a cause, possibly due to its effect on the central
nervous system. It is also well known that standard hepatitis C therapy with
pegylated interferon and ribavirin can have psychiatric side-effects. These can include
depression, fatigue, insomnia and cognitive disturbances.
Given these concerns, the European Liver Patients Association convened a meeting of
European investigators in 2011 to develop a consensus statement based
on current knowledge of mental health problems during hepatitis C infection and treatment and
the treatment of psychiatric-related disorders.
Their recommendations are based on a grading of the quality of current evidence, and cover six broad areas.