Liver Disease and Mental Health Explained

October 31, 2022 | By | News & Events

Can liver disease affect your mental health_

With all the heavy lifting our liver does daily, it’s easy to forget its connection to specific areas, such as our nervous system. Our latest blog discusses how liver disease can impact mental health in various ways.

The Mind and The Liver 

Our mental well-being is essential in every stage of life. Affecting how we act, feel, and think—ultimately determining how we connect to others, our daily choices, and our ability to manage stress. Our cognitive health is connected firsthand to our liver health. When liver function is disrupted, toxins accumulate in the blood and often travel to the brain, increasing the likelihood of affecting brain function. Liver disease patients are three times more likely to simultaneously be living with depressive disorders, significantly affecting their quality of life. The liver is a jack of all trades, performing more than 500 vital functions, such as cleansing the body and digesting alcohol, drugs, and toxins. For noncirrhotic patients, they have a 7.61% prevalence for depression, whereas, for liver cirrhosis patients, that percentage jumps to 23.93%.Smiley faces depicting different emotional statesAbout Hepatic Encephalopathy

Have you been noticing changes in you or a loved one’s personality? Well, an area of our body directly impacted by the liver is our central nervous system, especially the brain. Inflammatory liver diseases frequently go hand in hand with behavioral modifications such as cognitive defects, fatigue, mood disorders, and sleep disturbances. Hepatic encephalopathy is a nervous system disorder that frequents severe liver disease patients. As described above, when toxins travel up to the brain, impairment often leads to confusion and difficulty processing thoughts. Approximately 50% of individuals with liver cirrhosis develop hepatic encephalopathy. Commonly, hepatic encephalopathy is misdiagnosed as dementia, depression, or even ADHD.

Symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy include: 

  • Altered mood and personality
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Coordination difficulties
  • Problems with concentration
  • Reduced alertness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Slurring of speech

However, all hope is not lost! Appropriate treatment can often eliminate the buildup of these toxins and reverse the problem at hand. It’s important to note that as liver disease progresses in severity, the likelihood of reversing the harm caused is reduced. With the help of routine liver exams, early detection and successful treatments are possible!

Your liver is calling - it needs help!

The liver can have a profound effect on mental health, making it critical to prioritize both aspects of your health! Schedule your appointment here or contact us at either of our three locations to get started today!