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Living With Hepatitis C

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You may have been shocked to learn you've got hepatitis C. Like a lot of folks, you might have thought you weren't at risk for the disease. It's normal to have lots of questions about what comes next. Find out how to get the support you need and where to turn for medical advice.

Choose a Doctor

When you have hep C, it's important to find the right doctor. Although it's possible to get cured, it's likely you'll be getting care from the same person for many years.

There are many kinds of doctors who treat people with liver diseases. Look for one who has a lot of experience taking care of people with hep C. Information about the disease changes quickly. So you want to make sure the person treating you keeps up with latest advances.

Get Support

Friends and family can be a big help in giving you the emotional backing you need while you manage the disease. But may also want to think about joining a support group. You'll meet people there who are going through the same things you are. Ask your doctor how to find one in your area.

Take care in finding a group that's right for you. If you find the conversation tends to break down into trading scary stories, it might not be a place that's going to give you the support you need. Feel free to switch to one that's got a more positive vibe.

Manage Depression

Mental health problems like depression and anxiety are more common among people with hep C. But there are steps you can take to treat them.

Sometimes mental health problems are a side effect of the medicine you're taking. For example, interferon may cause you to feel:

  • Depressed
  • Irritable
  • Confused
  • Emotionally unstable
  • Unable to concentrate

Antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs can help. Some doctors prescribe them before you take interferon in order to prevent or limit these symptoms.

You can also get help from talking with a psychiatrist or mental health counselor. Your doctor can recommend one. Some therapists specialize in treating people like you who are trying to manage a long-term disease.

You're going to be living with hep C for some time, so don't hesitate to reach out to family and friends while you adjust to your situation. Along with your doctor, support group, and mental health specialist, they can help you stay positive and meet any challenges you face.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on July 16, 2014
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