Recurrence of Depressive Disorders after Interferon-induced Depression

Dr. Wei Che Chiu



Interferon alpha (IFN-α) is the standard therapy for chronic hepatitis C viral infection but the treatment is highly associated IFN-α-induced depressive disorders. Although the depressive episode generally spontaneously subsides after the IFN-α therapy, there have been no studies to examine the long-term risk of the recurrence of clinical depression.



To examine the risk of the recurrent depression in IFN-α-induced depression patients.



A retrospective cohort study was designed using the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) in Taiwan. The cohort included patients with and without INF-α-induced depression matched randomly by age, sex and the previous depression history at a ratio of 1:10. The follow-up started after the last prescription of INF-α. Cox regression was used to evaluate the hazard ratios (HRs) for risk of recurrent depressive disorder.



The overall incidence rates of recurrent depressive disorders of patients with and without IFN-α-induced depression were 56.8 (95% CI, 42.4-76.1) and 4.1 (95% CI, 2.9-5.8) cases, respectively, per 100,000 person-years, p < 0.001. The adjusted hazard ratios for recurrent depressive disorder were 13.5 (95% CI, 9.9-18.3) in the unmatched cohort and 22.2 (95% CI, 11.2-44.2) in the matched cohort for IFN-α-induced depression patients after adjusting for age, sex, income, urbanization and comorbid diseases.



IFN-α-induced depression was associated with the high risk of recurrent depression. It was not a transient disease and might be considered as a risk factor for recurrent depressive episodes.