World Hepatitis Day: Simultaneous mental health checkup beneficial to hepatitis patients

World Hepatitis Day: Simultaneous mental health checkup beneficial to hepatitis patients

The risk of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is highest among people with poor health or living a deteriorated quality of life. Impaired health can be the result of cirrhosis, injecting drugs, co-occurring psychological illnesses, incessant drinking habits and poor social support, among others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), clinicians diagnosed roughly 30,500 new cases of hepatitis C in 2014.

Experts believe that a chronic form of the HCV infection may result in lifelong illness, causing psychosocial problems. These problems may include depression, anxiousness and other major mental health disorders. Elucidating on how suffering from a HCV infection can adversely affect one’s state of mind, Dr. Andrew Muir, associate professor of medicine and clinical director of hepatology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, said, “People with hepatitis C are at increased risk for mental health issues compared with people in the general population.”

The impact of psychological illnesses are not limited to those living with HCV, but also extends to those seeking treatment for its symptoms and effects. While the kinds of mental health problems attributed to the onset and progression of HCV is known, a detailed understanding of their nature and extent would go a long way in looking for an appropriate treatment plan.

Examining link between depression and HCV

Not many people understand what HCV is all about and this has led to many misconceptions surrounding the disease. Certain myths such as, the infection spreads by sharing of utensils or shaking hands and has no cure, have resulted in improper behavior and attitudes towards such patients that serve as impediments to the prevention of the spread of the infectious disease. Social isolation and psychological barriers against those affected can lead to depression.

Though scientists have been unable to calculate the prevalence of depression among chronic HCV patients, figures indicate that the pervasiveness of the symptoms among folks living with the virus is significantly higher than that of the general population.

Determining association between anxiety and HCV

Detection of HCV can result in extreme anxiousness coupled with feelings of nervousness that can cause mood swings. Anxiety arises out of fear of future events, including likelihood of liver cancer or death. In addition, anxiety is one of the side effects of the drugs administered to HCV patients. Severe anxiety can interfere with completion of HCV treatment, thus, making it an uphill task for the patients recommended medicines during therapy. Such patients may exhibit common symptoms of anxiety, including jittery feelings, rapid heartbeat, constant uneasiness, tendency to be restless and agitated, dry mouth and excessive perspiration.

Stressing on the link between anxiety and HCV medications, Muir said, “Some of the older treatments can make depression, anxiety and irritability worse due to their side effects. The new treatments are less likely to cause these side effects and also offer more hope for their ability to clear the virus.”

July 28 is observed each year as the “World Hepatitis Day” in a bid to raise awareness of the disease on a global level. Medical professionals, health care advocates and voluntary community service providers organize seminars, meetings and make use of various marketing gimmicks to encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment for the virus.

Seeking mental health treatment

Imminent treatment of HCV is important, but one must not disregard the importance of getting a mental health checkup during the recovery process. Poor mental health hampers all chances of adequate recovery of such patients, necessitating the need to be in touch with mental health professionals.

If you or a loved one is suffering from anxiety or depression, consult a mental health expert at Sovereign Health for generalized anxiety treatment in Los Angeles. We provide state-of-the-art treatment for people suffering from any kind of mental disorders. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with one of our experts to know about our GAD treatment centers in Los Angeles and other parts of the U.S.

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