Suicidal ideation during interferon-α2b and ribavirin treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C

Eric Dieperink, Samuel B. Ho, Lori Tetrick, Paul Thuras, Kulwinder Dua, Mark L. Willenbring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Psychiatric and substance use disorders affect most patients with chronic hepatitis C and are the most common reasons for exclusion from antiviral therapies. Suicidal ideation (SI) is often cited as a reason to exclude patients from interferon-based treatment or to terminate antiviral treatment that is in progress. This study examines SI in hepatitis C patients untreated and treated with interferon-α2b, a medication commonly associated with depression. Fifty-five subjects with chronic hepatitis C were followed for 24 weeks with three measures of depression, each containing one item assessing SI. A total of 15/55 (27%) subjects reported SI while not on interferon therapy. Of the 42 patients treated with interferon, 18 (43%) endorsed SI at some point during antiviral treatment. However, 17/18 (94%) finished at least a 6-month course of interferon therapy. No subjects attempted suicide. Although SI in some form is common in hepatitis C patients, in most cases it is mild in nature. With adequate support most patients can successfully complete a full course of antiviral treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-240
Number of pages4
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Minneapolis Hepatitis C Resource Center, the Research Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs and an unrestricted grant form Schering-Plough. The following people made substantial contributions to the study: Kristen Phillips, Gunnar Larson, Arnold Valerius, William Townsend.


  • Depression
  • Hepatitis C
  • Interferon
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Suicidal ideation


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