Can Getting Cured of Hepatitis C Improve Anxiety and Depression?

Last updated: February 2022

Getting diagnosed with hepatitis C virus (HCV) can be overwhelming and emotional. HCV can cause difficult symptoms like fatigue and muscle pain. Those symptoms and other challenges of living with a chronic disease can lead to anxiety or depression.

In our 2020 Hepatitis C In America Survey, we learned that depression and anxiety are common among those living with hepatitis C. Can seeking treatment and curing hep C help improve mental health issues? Take a look at what respondents had to say.

Anxiety and depression are common in those with HCV

Responses from our survey show that it is common for both those who have been cured of HCV and those who are not yet cured to experience other health conditions along with hep C. The most common other conditions include depression, anxiety, arthritis, and high blood pressure.

It is estimated that people living with HCV are 1.5 to 4 times more likely to have depression than the general population.1

Of those respondents who have been cured of HCV:

51 percent also have depression
44 percent also have anxiety or panic disorders

Of those respondents who have not yet been cured of HCV:

53 percent also have depression
43 percent also have anxiety or panic disorders

Mental health improvement upon being cured

Responses from our survey show that some people who were cured of HCV also saw an improvement in their mental health following treatment and they were considered cured of the hep C.

22 percent said their depression and/or anxiety has gotten better since they have been cured
11 percent said that now they are cured, they are no longer experiencing depression and/or anxiety

However, not all respondents who have been cured of HCV found relief once they successfully completed treatment for hep C.

34 said their depression and/or anxiety has stayed the same
11 percent said their depression and/or anxiety has gotten worse since being cured

Many who are not cured experience worsening mental health

For many of the respondents who are not yet cured of HCV, their diagnosis has negatively impacted their mental health.

50 percent said their depression and/or anxiety has gotten worse since their diagnosis
26 percent said their depression and/or anxiety has stayed the same

Only 3 percent of respondents said their depression and/or anxiety has gotten better since their HCV diagnosis.

HCV symptoms and treatment side effects take time to resolve

For some people, hepatitis C treatments can cause or worsen mental health symptoms. In fact, some HCV treatments can cause depression, mood swings, and irritability.2

These issues may take time to get better after hep C treatment. Of all respondents who have completed treatment:

14 percent said their depression, anxiety, and/or mood disorder went away within 6 months of completing treatment

6 percent said it took 6 months to 1 year after completing treatment for their depression, anxiety, and/or mood disorder to go away

7 percent said it took at least a year after completing treatment for their depression, anxiety, and/or mood disorder to resolve

74 percent of those who completed treatment and are cured of HCV still experience depression, anxiety, and/or mood disorder

The 2020 Hepatitis C In America Survey was conducted online from April through August 2020. The survey was completed by 190 people classified as "Cured" (no longer having the infection) and 217 classified as "Not Cured" (still infected).

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