Managing the Neuropsychiatric Side Effects of Interferon-Based Therapy for Hepatitis C

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Neuropsychiatric side effects are common with interferon-based therapy for chronic hepatitis C, and their prompt recognition and management is essential to effective patient care. Depression induced by interferon has been a significant cause of early treatment discontinuation in clinical trials. The need to monitor for and treat interferon-induced depression is well established, but whether to use antidepressants prophylactically remains controversial. Nonetheless, clinicians should maintain a low threshold for antidepressant therapy. Other significant neuropsychiatric side effects include anxiety, hypomania or mania, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction. These can be additional sources of patient distress during interferon therapy and require appropriate intervention through patient education, psychotropic medications, support, and behavioral techniques.