Mental Health Problems can Result from a Traumatic Brain Injury

Young man with brown hair holds an ice pack on his head and looks in pain.

New Study Addresses Link Among Traumatic Brain Injuries, PTSD, and Depression

If a person sustains a concussion or another type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), the effects can be long lasting. This is especially true for athletes who sustain multiple, repeated concussions and mild to severe brain injuries over a period of time. For those individuals, these brain injuries may ultimately lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative disease of the brain.

Given that researchers have focused on links between concussions and CTE in recent years, many people have not fully considered the traumatic brain injury symptoms that they may have sustained in a car accident, for example. However, according to a recent report from WFMZ-TV 69 News, a new study suggests that there may be a prominent link between traumatic brain injuries and depression, among other mental health issues.

In short, if you sustain a concussion or another type of mild TBI, your risk of developing depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a brain injury is much greater than it is for individuals who sustain other kinds of traumatic injuries that do not affect the brain. As such, it is important to seek brain injury and depression treatment as soon as possible if you believe yourself or a loved one is suffering from a severe brain injury. A brain injury study was published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Psychiatry wherein researchers concluded that, “among hospital patients, 21.2% of those with mild traumatic brain injuries experienced PTSD or depression up to six months after injury, compared with 12.1% of those with non-head injuries.”

Further Findings on Depression and PTSD After a Brain Injury

The traumatic brain injury, depression, and PTSD study assessed a total of 1,155 different patients who had sustained a mild traumatic brain injury, and an additional 230 patients who sustained other types of traumatic injuries that did not affect the brain. The majority of the patients sustained their injuries in motor vehicle crashes (61.8%), while the second-leading cause of the injury was a fall (29.2%). The patients were assessed at different intervals after the injury: immediately after being seen at the hospital, two weeks after the injury, three months after the injury, six months after the injury, and 12 months after the injury. At each stage, the patients were assessed for signs of depression and PTSD.

In patients suffering from mild traumatic brain injuries, signs of depression and PTSD after the brain injury were highest at three months and six months after the injury occurred. These traumatic brain injury findings suggest that effects of a head injury can appear—and in fact may be more likely to appear—many months after the initial trauma. The researchers also cited a history of mental health problems as “an exceptionally strong risk factor.”

Signs and Symptoms of a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

What are the signs and symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury? The Mayo Clinic lists some of the following:

  • Loss of consciousness for a short period of time;
  • Feeling dazed or confused;
  • Having a headache;
  • Experiencing nausea or vomiting;
  • Feeling fatigued or drowsy;
  • Difficulty speaking;
  • Problems with sleep;
  • Experiencing blurred vision;
  • Having ringing in the ears;
  • Experiencing sensitivity to light or sound;
  • Having difficulty remembering or concentrating;
  • Experiencing mood swings; and/or
  • Feeling anxious or depressed.

If you or someone you love sustained a traumatic brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you should speak with a brain injury lawyer about your options.

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