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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in the Context of Hepatitis C Infection: Reexamining the Risks of Bleeding

J Clin Psychiatry 2007;68(7):1024-1026

Objective: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to treat interferon-associated depression in patients receiving hepatitis C virus therapy. Prior studies have cautioned against the combined use of SSRIs and interferon due to increased risk of hemorrhage. Given the morbidity of depression and its impact on interferon compliance, we sought to reexamine the data.

Method: In a retrospective analysis of our database of hepatitis C virus patients, a consecutive series of 303 patients (receiving treatment between January 2001 and January 2005) were evaluated for any evidence of bleeding. On the basis of our standard practice of care, patients were treated prophylactically with antidepressants for 3 to 4 weeks before beginning combination therapy with interferon and ribavirin. Patients were evaluated every 4 weeks during antiviral treatment with physical examinations and complete blood cell counts with differentials and platelets.

Results: The overall rate of bleeding in our study was 0.3%, representing a single case of hemophilia.

Conclusions: The bleeding risk of SSRIs is lower than previously reported.