Hepatitis C and Feeling Blue

Last updated: March 2023

Hepatitis C patients can deal with depression and anxiety, especially when recently diagnosed, dealing with preparing for treatment, or going through treatment and recovery. Depression and anxiety can often stem from feeling out of control, fear, and feelings of loss, or not knowing what the future holds. These feelings can cause sleep loss and impact eating, which can lead to feelings of depression. Some medications can also cause depression as a chemical side effect.

Depression and hepatitis C treatment

Since treatment for hepatitis C no longer includes Peg Interferon and rarely ribavirin, depression is no longer a common treatment side effect for hepatitis C. Some patients do continue to report some depression with treatment. If depression occurs, it’s best to let your physician know immediately so tests can be run to determine the cause.

What can be done

If depression continues longer than two weeks, it’s best to consult your physician. Blood work can be done to make sure no other physical issues are going on. Prescription medications for anxiety and/or depression may be needed to help the patient get through this time. As mentioned above, it's possible depression is temporarily brought on by treatment medication. If your physician recommends a prescription for anxiety, depression or for insomnia, remember, this is just a tool to help you during this time. This doesn’t mean you’ll have to stay on this medication long term.

Once treatment is completed and in recovery, you may be able to step down off this medication. Be sure to consult with your physician and get the proper instructions on how to step down off any medication for depression or anxiety. Do not get off medication for depression or anxiety cold turkey, this can shock your system and cause problems.

Support groups and other tips for self-care

Find a support group for hepatitis C and recovery. Connecting with others who share the same condition is very helpful with depression and anxiety. And if needed, seek a professional counselor who can help you.

Other notable practices and self-care to manage hepatitis C and prevent depression include:

  • Talk to your pharmacist about all medications you are taking to find out if any have side effects of depression, anxiety or cause sleep problems.
  • Be mindful about eating healthy meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar level and nourish your body with good foods.
  • Make sure to drink plenty of pure water or water infused with citrus all throughout your treatment and recovery. Get plenty of sleep at night.
  • Mild exercise such as walking or stretching is also helpful. Exercise can increase endorphins in the brain which help lift the spirit.
  • Prayer and meditation are another excellent way to help with depression and anxiety. A positive mindset and focusing on the good that is happening will also help.
  • Listen to your body as you go through treatment and recovery. If you are dealing with fatigue, rest breaks are necessary.
  • Fatigue can also contribute to depression, so be mindful and remember, this is temporary. You will get better and overcome this.

Consult with your doctor and together you can make a proactive plan to get the tools and help you need to get through this.

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