Symptoms: ‘Do not ignore depression in hepatitis C patients’

Treatment requires up to six months and is expensive.

Our Correspondent March 30, 2013
Awareness must be created among people that the hepatitis C treatment may be long but it is curable. PHOTO: FILE


Some 50 per cent of hepatitis C patients suffer from depression and doctors treating them do not always keep this factor in mind, said experts while speaking at a symposium at the King Edward Medical University (KEMU) on Friday.

The symposium titled Management of Depression in Hepatitis C Patients was organised by the KEMU South Medical Ward.

“The treatment of hepatitis patients requires six months and is expensive. Most of the patients cannot afford it and go into extreme depression which also needs to be treated,” said Psychiatry Department head Professor Aftab Asif.

“Frequently the hepatitis patient thinks he is going to die. This is not right. Hepatitis is a disease and like many other diseases is treatable. Awareness must be created among people that the hepatitis C treatment may be long but it is curable,” he said.

“The interferon injections used in hepatitis C treatment too may cause depression. In Pakistan, many people suffer from depression and interferon injections certainly add to the problem. Physicians treating hepatitis C patients should also prescribe anti-depression drugs if they feel the patient is going into depression,” Professor Asif advised.

He said patients should describe their symptoms to the doctor who should carefully note the patient’s history and then prescribe the medicine.

KEMU Professor of Medicine Dr Irshad Qureshi said the hepatitis C treatment was expensive and most patients were unable to afford. He said this caused depression in many of the patients. He said the physicians should consult physiatrists if the patients went into extreme depression.

He said the hepatitis patients should also be told that they can be cured if the disease is diagnosed early.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2013. 


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