Antidepressants and Hepatitis C Treatment

Antidepressants and Hepatitis C – The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) treatment is known to create anxiety and depression. Most doctors talk to their patients about it when they begin to discuss Incivik, Boceprevir, Olysio, Ribavirin, and Interferon. My thoughts got twisted into a vortex when I was diagnosed. By the time the FDA approved a treatment and my doctor gave the go ahead, anxiety was at an all time high. I also had non-alcoholic cirrhosis, which can also lead to fatigue and bouts of depression.

Antidepressants and Hepatitis C Treatment
Just to reassure you, I made it through my treatment without thoughts of suicide.

It is scary to look at the treatment and long term side effects. Then when you hear about the mental anguish from the short term side effects, it creates more mental anguish. My doctor wanted to have a long conversation about it to see where my head was before he approved treatment. Some studies of the drugs used for treatment were said to cause people to want to kill themselves.


So they did this little mental check list when I went in for every appointment. A little clipboard in my lap became my confessional while I checked off questions like: Are you more sad than usual? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you have less interest in sex? Do you want to give up on life?  Do you feel guilty? Do you feel like you looks have changed?  And On it goes. If I was’t depressed before, I certainly was after answering all those questions. 

Suicide? Really? I thought we were fighting for our lives. Yet, some people felt that way during the trials and it has to be disclosed. Depression or thoughts of wanting to cash it in should never cause us to feel ashamed. We are dealing with tough situations. Some people who are dealing with addictions may be battling depression on 2 fronts. So let’s discuss it. If you have read my blog, you know that when trouble hits, I push up my sleeves and start looking for answers.

Here are some things that may spiral around in your thoughts regarding Antidepressants and Hepatitis C Treatment or just depression in general.

  1. I am already on one Many times depression is suffered silently. If it comes and goes, we just push our way through each day looking for ways to find our old joy again. In addition, the silent HCV virus can create mayhem in our minds for years and we just do not know what is causing it. You may have gone on an antidepressant to sooth out the wrinkles in your thinking years ago. You may wonder if you need something different. Maybe you need a higher dose or a stronger med. If you already taking an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, you may not need to make any changes. Then again, you may be offered a different one. Some are not metabolized by the liver, but by the kidneys. Your doctor will guide you about your dosage or different types of medication. Ask a lot of questions and be honest about your fears.
  2. I am not taking one or I have never taken one before. Some of us resist taking medication for depression. We may feel that it is a sign of weakness. We may  have developed strategies for coping with it and feel that we can maintain a level of sanity without meds. That is okay too.  You know yourself and need to be true to what tools you have used in the past. Again, if your doctor agrees with your allied health team that you should give an antidepressant a try, then take their advice. At first, your body will make some adjustments and you might not feel like the real you. Give it some time. It can take a few weeks to get into your system. Be sure and communicate with them about how you feel.
  3. No one compares to YOU. While it is nice to hear of others who take the same medications – or not – you are the one making the decision. This is not a time to try and copy someone else’s experience. You are an individual who is dealing with a strong medication in an attempt to prolong your life. You have your own history that includes family, finances, and your way of looking at life. This is where you have to trust your doctor to listen, and perhaps tweak your dosage if you need it.
  4. It is a preventative measure. In Oklahoma, we call the storm cellar the “fraidy hole” because that is where we go when we are afraid a tornado will sweep us into the next county. As a child, when we opened the door and saw that our house was still standing, mom always reminded us that it was better to be safe than sorry. Remember the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? It works here with Antidepressants and Hepatitis C Treatment.
  5. Be patient. No one can foretell how you will respond to Hepatitis C treatment. That includes whether or not you will clear the Hepatitis C Virus, how stable your hemoglobin, white blood cells, and platelets will remain, and the degree of depression you will experience. Our doctors rely on the statistics from clinical trials, medical journals, their colleagues, or from what they have seen in their own practice. There is no crystal ball. When dealing with this virus and the myriad of ailments that come along with it, you have to be patient, take it one day at a time.
antidepressant and hepatit

I hope this will alleviate some of your fears regarding the decision to take antidepressants. I will share my personal experience in another blog, but I just remember starting and having so many questions. That is why I write to my Best Friends. We have a common experience with Hepatitis C. We make choices that most people will never understand. We have fears, anxiety, and depression in ways we never dreamed of. Best of all? We hang tough and do it.

Some people call medications like this a crutch. Well, a crutch is not a bad thing if you are crippled. It may be taken temporarily. It may become a permanent prescription for you. If so, think of it as an accessory to life, like a tie, a hat, or some bling. I do not say that lightly, just light heartedly.

Dealing with Antidepressants and Hepatitis C Treatment is our reality.  I wish you the best as you get through treatment using any and all tools at your disposal. Let me know if you need someone to talk you down from the ledge. Karen:)   

Keep reading…..

P.S. If you would like to share your experience with antidepressants, I would love that. I can write it in with my personal story, or post yours as a guest blog. You can remain anonymous if you want to. I believe in telling our story, we not only help others, but heal ourselves.

Here is a list of some antidepressants your doctor may prescribe during Hepatitis C treatment. It is not meant to be a complete list. Your doctor will suggest one that is safe for you to use and you can try it. If you have adverse side effects, it simply means you may have to try something else. Your mental state must be strong to go through treatment. Do NOT worry about liver safety here. Your doctor will guide you to the one that is safest for you. There are liver friendly antidepressants. Your liver is taking a hit from the HCV and getting rid of it must be your priority.

Check out my blog on PTSD for more info and encouragement.

My point here is this: Do Not Give Up or allow anxiety and depression to keep you from treating and living your best life. Remember, I’m part of your allied health team and will be pulling for you all the way.

Antidepressant List by brand name: Effexor,  Zoloft, Paxil, Valium, SAMe, Topamax, Xanax, Cymbalta, Lexapro, Ativan, Valium, Klonipin


About Karen Hoyt

Karen Hoyt offers a no nonsense approach to living with Cirrhosis. A Hepatitis C treatment survivor, she created a liver loving diet and lifestyle that allows her to create awareness and advocate for her Best Friends at

16 thoughts on “Antidepressants and Hepatitis C Treatment

  1. Hi Karen,
    I finished triple treatment for Hep C in June. During treatment I was taking Paxil after treatment ended I gain a lot of weight as a side effect of the Paxil. I was able to wean myself off the Paxil. Weight gain has slowed down thank goodness but I think I may still need some kind of antidepressant. The doc I was seeing for the Hep has gone out on a disability of her own and I am feeling a bit lost. I have an appointment with my primary doc next week. I am going to bring up the subject and I was wondering if you can tell me if there are some liver friendly medications.

    1. Hi Sandra –

      Your doctor can best guide you on meds depending on the condition of your liver. I take 1/2 of a .5 Xanax when sleep is impossible. I work hard to get my mind slowed down. I was up with leg cramps til 1:00 A.M. and I took one.

      Like you, I don’t want to be dependent on something, but hunnyo – there are times when some help is needed. I made a list based on what others shared with me who were on treatment. It’s on my antidepressant and hep c blog. Type in antidepressant safe in the search box on the upper right. Here, I found it. but don’t know how to hyperlink it.

      I’ll be curious to hear what your doc says. Changing doctors can be a bad thing.. or it can be a good thing. Maybe a fresh perspective. The main idea is that you advocate for yourself. You’ve been through a life threatening ordeal. The left over stress is real.

      Will you keep me posted? I’ll be thinking about you. Congratulations on the weight loss! You’re working hard girl.
      xoxo Karen

    1. The world feels like a big old lonely place sometimes, I know. Have you gone to the “Best Friends Start Here” page? Maybe it says “Start Here” and it’s a list of all my blogs.
      If you scroll to the very bottom, there is a section called “WHATS NEXT”. I wrote those blogs just to try and sort out my life after treatment. It is a confusing time. You may still be battling some liver disease symptoms. You also might be having family problems that are left over from before. I did and it surprised me.
      Have you contacted a place for counseling? National Alliance on Mental Illness is a great place to start. If you need more info, google that in your city, or contact a pastoral care place and ask for a referral. I actually went to some classes for several weeks. It was amazing and helped me a lot.
      Let me know by email if you need a personal reference for your city. I can find stuff like you wouldn’t believe. Thank you for reaching out. You are never alone dear one. Big bear hug, Karen:)

  2. I was just diagnosed with hepc and another STD and I am scared to death. I have a history of addiction to pain medications. I’m on antidepressants but I’m still always in panic mode. I am 27 and looks like I’ll never be able to get married or have children. My doctor is reluctant to write any benzodiopines but I hate those things anyway much less want to abuse them but, I do fear for my life I can’t afford the treatments and do not know how to act and I am afraid. Thank you for allowing me to post.

    1. Justin,

      Hay buddy. I totally feel for you. You don’t say what STD you have, but nothing can keep you from moving into a bright future. With modern medicine, you can have a family. You’re too young to let the burdens of life hold you back. Hepatitis C is NOT sexually transmitted so that’s one less thing to worry about.

      As for the treatments, get with your local state health department and/or doctor. They can help you to know which clinics to go to. You’re body is young and strong in spite of everything going on.

      Now all you have to do is whip that mind into shape and get the support you need to get through this. Fear? WE all get that.. It’s human to be scared when dealing with an illness like this.

      Anxiety and panic are the symptom of some belief patterns that are unhealthy. Your mind can be trained to stop responding to life from a place of sheer panic. It takes some time, but it can be done. If you need some antidepressants to get you through while you’re working on lifestyle and mental changes, that is ok. We all need help sometimes. I have some good tools and I want you to watch my youtube channel for some ideas I have for helping to cope with the stress of it all. Let me tell you Justin, many many more are dealing with this. I get a lot of private mail about it.

      Thank you for posting. I know it is going to help someone else to see that that are not alone. Keep an eye on that future. You’re just starting to live kiddo!
      Much love, Karen:)

  3. Hep. C friendly anti-depressants that won’t make me again weight. Please help me. I am not seriously affected yet, I.e. no scarring on my liver, I am stage one. I do have depression, anxiety and ocd for quite a few years already from a BAD relationship that ended 22 years ago. This is making me feel crazy,like I am loosing it -please help me!!!!

    1. Hay girl… Have you tried Wellbutrin or Prozac? I hope that your doctor is helping you to find something that will settle your nerves. Maybe a light dose of zanax.

      But in addition to that, I want to recommend that you find a loving person to talk you through some steps to help you relax. Deep breathing and counting is helpful. So is saying gentle statements to yourself. Check out the newest blog on the home page about cirrhosis is a pain in the neck. I share some of my relation exercises at the bottom of the page.

      Pills are helpful, but you can take some steps to help your body and mind to be more relaxed and comfortable. I’m so glad you’re not past stage 1 yet. So continue to eat healthy food and get yourself ready for treatment! With the meds changing all the time, you might get treatment sooner than you think. I hope this helps. xoxox Karen

  4. Hep c friendly antipressants. Help me please before I Lose my mind completely. I am 60years old and stage 1 so I am not getting any treatment yet!!!!

    1. Hep. C friendly anti-depressants that won’t make me again weight. Please help me. I am not seriously affected yet, I.e. no scarring on my liver, I am stage one. I do have depression, anxiety and ocd for quite a few years already from a BAD relationship that ended 22 years ago. This is making me feel crazy,like I am loosing it -please help me!!!!

      1. Hep. C friendly anti-depressants that won’t make me again weight. Please help me. I am not seriously affected yet, I.e. no scarring on my liver, I am stage one. I do have depression, anxiety and ocd for quite a few years already from a BAD relationship that ended 22 years ago. This is making me feel crazy,like I am loosing it -please help me!!!!

    2. Hello there! I am almost 60, I’m on Prozac, no weight gain. I would suggest starting out at the lowest dose, try that for a week, if ok then increase but stay on lowest dose that is effective. Good luck to you, Dee

  5. Hi Dee, I didn’t feel like saying that much this morning but I feel better now. I. Hit an all time low for depression this morning but I felt the urge to write back now. I am going to my psych Tomorrow and I will ask him to put me back on Prozac again. I have tried it before but I didn’t give it a chance because I am the type of person who is very impatient for results. I have a lot of them left from the last time he put me on them, so I took one this a.m. and I feel better already. I don’t know why ???? But I guess hitting rock bottom jarred me into a state of resignation that I just have to be patient – maybe that’s the difference. I had to listen to someone who was in my boat and give up my stubborn instincts and take the time to think!! Thanks so much for making me come reality. I will keep you updated on my progress. Thanks again Sue. Please keep in touch.

    1. Sue and Dee,
      I love seeing you two help each other out. Gosh, we have a lot of shared wisdom and experience here on the site. Thanks for taking care of each other. xoxo

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