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382218 tn?1341185087

interferons and depression

This is a question for any of you who are or have been on any of the interferons.  Last evening I had a bit of a meltdown, a crying jag that lasted about an hour, and a really DEEP feeling of sadness.  Not quite despair, but close.  I felt a bit overwhelmed with everything: my double vision coming on six months now; being off work; feeling isolated; exhausted; annoyed at my 20 lb weight gain since my dx; not being able to make vacation plans, etc. etc.  As it was happening I was thinking, I hope this is not a sign that I'm not going to be able to tolerate Rebif, which I only started 2 weeks ago (6 shots so far).    It occured to me that I may have been PMS'ing, although it doesn't usually get me down like that.  I slept OK last night, and today I feel OK emotionally and physically.

I am not prone to depression, and I'm not going to get all worked up about one night of weepiness which I would think is normal in these circumstances.  However it did get me to thinking about the warnings about interferons causing depression in some people.  Some of you have said that you weren't able to tolerate interferons because of this, and my question is, how long were you on the meds before these feelings set in?  

9 Responses
382218 tn?1341185087
Hmmm, this is kind of interesting:  I just read an article pubished on Jan 31/08 in the journal "Multiple Sclerosis" that concluded that depression is NOT associated with beta interferon treatment in MS.  

The study was conducted by the University of Calgary and was large in scale. Antidepressant treatment was used as a proxy indicator for depressive disorders.  The study examined patients taking one of the three interferons or Copaxone, and found no significant differences in rates of treatment for depression.  

In fact, the % of pts being treated for depression were marginally higher (but insignificant) for those taking Copaxone (41.1%) compared to those taking Avonex (39%)  or Rebif, high dose (39.4%).  Those on Betaseron had the highest rate of treatment for depression, but the difference was nominal (43.1%).

Everything I've heard thus far suggested that those who are prone to depression should avoid interferons.  I am curious about how the belief about assocation between interferons and depression developed.

Wow.  Confusing to keep track of all the research findings; makes it hard to know what to believe!  I'm somewhat skeptical of studies and wish I was more savvy to the politics of it all, ie: relationship between pharmaceutical companies and research facilities, etc.  

198419 tn?1360245956
Hi db1,

I do believe that at certain levels (has to do with the cytokines), which I am no where near educated well enough to explain, there can be interferon induced depression which will induce those horrible depressive symptoms.

Also, biologically with our immune systems, and inflammation occurring, I think MSers (and other diseases/disorders) are more suceptible to it as well.  

I  had some times where I was down and out, and 1 of those times, I truly realized the difference.  Once the funk begun to lift, I realized what it was.  It is hard to know what is related to the med, and what happens to us from time to time.  I didn't go on anything, since it worked itself out, just keep an eye on, and will continue to .

There are distinct symptoms to look out for w/depression, and the Dr should be checking on this at each visit.  Like you said, the studies do show a lot.  The do have depression up there in the top rung.  Something to be aware of.  

I believe the key is, if it does not away, suicidal thoughts, etc.  

Wishing you well w/rebif,
198419 tn?1360245956
Sorry, wanted to ask, are you feeling a bit better? Hope so.  Your not on the 44's yet right? Still on the titration pack and on the 22's?  

Without the interferon, you have, and had a lot going on.  I think you just hit your breaking point, and I hope it's only up from here!  Looking back, my biggest funk was right after the holidays, so I think it all contributed to mine.  It took a couple weeks to pass, and then became spotty.  

be well,
382218 tn?1341185087
Yes I am still on the titration pack, 22 mcg for a few more weeks.  I guess I was just having a 'moment', as I am feeling a lot better.  Thank you for asking.  :)

I think that the pending change of season is also getting to me a bit, although I know it's still very wintry in some parts.  It's weird, because I'm sure most of you are looking forward to the spring.  For me, being somewhat housebound over the winter did not seem so bad - I didn't mind the days I was curled up on the sofa while everyone else was scraping their windshields and freezing in the minus 40 celsius weather.  

But now with the changing seasons, I'm reminded of what I had hoped to be doing right now --- strolling the cobbletone streets of Amsterdam enjoying the tulips ---  instead of sitting her at home wallowing in my double vision-ness.  

If my problem does not resolve, I just really hope there is something available to help alleviate it.  I am told eventually they should be working well enough for prism lenses to help.  That day cannot come too soon!

Sorry I have trailed off in another direction with this thread.   Sorry for the rambling stream of consciousness.....I just really need a holiday....and a glass of wine.....lol.

335728 tn?1331418012
Hi Sweetie and I hope you know that I can relate to the wallowing in our own problems...

BUT I can imagine that we are sitting at a wrought iron table on the patio of a little

outdoor cafe' in Amsterdam or even Victoria BC... having a glass of very fine white wine

while we are looking at the beautiful Tulips and Daffodils and Hyacinths and the smell of

all of the other spring flowers is almost overwhelming...can't you just feel with warmth of

the sun on our faces and we can hear the stream nearby trickling downhill.  Suddenly a

Bluejay swoops down and lands on our table and helps himself to a few grapes from our

cheeseplate and happily flies away, we can hear the chattering of the little squirrels

hopping around in the tree above us!

I can imagine this all day long and I am not seeing well right now but I sure hope you

enjoyed having a glass of wine with me!

Lots of Hugs,


382218 tn?1341185087
Thanks for the lovely imagery!  I did enjoy the glass of wine, however I prefer red, lol.  And that way we can each have our own bottle!  I can't wait to have one for real (must wait a while to find out if Rebif agrees with my liver) but for now, the make-believe kind will do.  Is it as sunny and warm in Edmonton today as it is here 'up north'?  

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