Objectives. The aims of this study were, firstly, to assess depression prevalence and severity of depressive symptoms in patients with chronic hepatitis C before interferon treatment, and secondly, to describe the relationships between depressive symptoms and selected clinical and viral parameters.
Methods. 79 patients with chronic HCV infection treated in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Wrocław Medical University were examined. Psychiatric examination included the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Hamilton Depressive Rating Scale (HAMD), the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), and Eysenck's questionnaire of neuroticism. Diagnoses of depression were based on the Present State Examination (PSE) questionnaire from the Schedules of Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry.
Results. Depressive disorders were diagnosed in 8 (10%) subjects. Severity of depressive symptoms was independent of the HCV infection duration, biochemical parameters, liver fibrosis and steatosis level. Significant correlations werefound between HCV viral load, liver inflammation and depressive symptoms severity. Moreover, there were highly significant correlations between neuroticism level on the one hand and depression severity and viral load on the other.
Conclusions. The observed correlations indicate a biological influence of HCV on the prevalence of depressive symptoms in the population studied. A hypothetical mechanism underlying this effect may involve an increase of susceptibility to stress-related depression.