World Hepatitis Day 2020: Understand The Link Between Viral Hepatitis And Psychiatric Disorders In Adults

Updated at: Jul 27, 2020
World Hepatitis Day 2020: Understand The Link Between Viral Hepatitis And Psychiatric Disorders In Adults

Hepatitis and depression! Is there any link between the two?

Tavishi Dogra
Mind BodyWritten by: Tavishi DograPublished at: Jul 25, 2020

World Hepatitis Day 2020: With an estimated forty million people suffering from chronic Hepatitis B and six to twelve million people infected with Hepatitis, Hepatitis C, or inflammation of the liver has become one of the essential public health matters in India. Not just that, viral Hepatitis induced by Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E Viruses results in a substantial economic and social burden on the affected individuals and their families. According to data recorded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), around one-hundred million people are suffering from Hepatitis B, and thirty million of them are living with Hepatitis C in South-East Asia. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Long term injury to the liver can progress to scarring, cirrhosis or even liver cancer. Hepatitis B and C, alcohol, fatty liver disease and autoimmune liver disease are the most common causes of cirrhosis.

Depression is also a prevalent disorder which can decrease the quality of life and social activities in these patients. Intentional transmission of hepatitis B and C may also occur by high-risk behaviours such as unprotected sexual activities. Like any chronic disease, depression is common in patients with chronic liver disease as the treatment is long and ongoing, and if not treated in time, the complications that ensue make the patient more disheartened. A major depressive disorder is defined by a period of depressed mood or anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure from usually pleasurable life events such as eating, exercise, social or sexual interaction) lasting for at least two consecutive weeks.

Also read: All About Hepatitis E: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

The depressed mood must also be followed by at least four of the below traits:

  • Overwhelming sadness or emptiness
  • Lack of interest in daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Disturbed sleep patterns

  • Changes in psychomotor activity
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Difficulty focusing, concentrating or making decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation

How to Manage Your Feelings?

To help keep your depression and anxiety in check, follow the following tips:

  • Let your doctor know about the history of depression or substance abuse and any family history of depression.
  • Know all the signs of hepatitis C depression which may include fatigue, sadness, irritability, changes in appetite or sleep, and any thoughts of death or suicide.

  • If you have signs of depression or risk factors for depression, have a psychiatric evaluation before starting the therapy. One can beat depression by eating a healthy diet, being physically active, getting emotional support, avoiding stress, and getting enough sleep.
  • Stop drinking alcohol and using drugs as these habits will cause severe damage to the liver. They can also make anxiety and depression worse. Practice ways to say no, and stay away from people who pressurize you to partake. Get treated for any substance abuse issues.
  • Eat healthy food and get enough sleep work out regularly to keep stress in check. Exercise is a great way to keep you mentally and physically fit, so do not skip it.
(The article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Sudeep Khanna, Senior Consultant Gastroenterologist at Apollo Indraprastha Hospital)

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