Department of Public Health, University of Cagliari, Italy.
Depressive syndromes, including recurrent brief depression (RBD), have frequently been observed in association with chronic diseases characterized by immune activation, such as autoimmune thyroiditis or celiac disease. However, the association of RBD with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), a disease with an increased incidence of major depressive disorders, is unknown.
Cases: 135 (83 males, 52 females) consecutive treatment-naïve patients with CHC. Exclusion criteria: previous treatment with IFN-alpha, co-infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus, infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), drug or alcohol abuse, or malignancy. Controls: 540 (332 males, 208 females) subjects without evidence of hepatitis, randomly extracted from the database of a previous epidemiological study. The psychiatric diagnosis was based on the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Simplified (CIDI-S), containing a specific section on RBD.
A significantly higher rate of RBD was observed among both male and female patients with CHC (n=21, 15.5%) as compared to controls (n=34, 6.3%) (OR=2.6, CI 95% from 1.37 to 4.93).
The present study provides the first evidence of an association between CHC and RBD, independent of treatment with IFN-alpha and not influenced by substance or alcohol abuse. The results are similar to those found in other conditions with immune activation. RBD may be another expression of mood disorders in such conditions.