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An Open-Label Trial of Citalopram for Major Depression in Patients With Hepatitis C.
Background: Hepatitis C affects nearly 4 million Americans. Depression is a common comorbid condition in this population and may be induced by interferon alfa, an approved treatment for hepatitis C. Depression is a major indicator for discontinuation of interferon therapy. This open-label study examines the effect of citalopram on measures of depression and quality of life and tests of liver function in subjects with hepatitis C and major depressive disorder.
Method: Subjects were recruited by advertisement; those with DSM-IV major depressive disorder were included in the study. Subjects received citalopram for 8 weeks starting at 20 mg/day. Dosage adjustments were made as the physicians deemed clinically necessary. No dosages were increased prior to week 4 of the study. Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) scores, Clinical Global Impressions-Severity of Illness scale (CGI-S) scores, Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) ratings, Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R) scores, and liver function tests were obtained at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks.
Results: A total of 15 patients (10 men, 5 women) participated in this study. The mean daily dose of citalopram at endpoint was 26.67 mg. Mean HAM-D scores decreased significantly with treatment (F=36.3, df=2,42; p=.0001). Thirteen of the 15 subjects demonstrated a clinical response, defined as a 50% or greater reduction in HAM-D scores. CGI-Severity of Illness scores also improved significantly (p=.0001). Subjects demonstrated statistically significant improvement (p<.05) on all of the SF-36 subscales. Statistically significant improvements (p<.05) were also demonstrated on all subscales of the SCL-90-R. Tests of liver function showed no significant worsening of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, or gamma-glutamyltransferase levels.
Conclusion: These results suggest that depression in patients with hepatitis C may be effectively and safely treated with citalopram.