Depression following Concussion is Highly Prevalent and Needs to Be Monitored and Treated
A new study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma highlights the importance of monitoring TBI patients for the presence of depression symptoms and providing clinical support to prevent minor depression from converting into major depression.
Canadian researchers assessed 236 individuals diagnosed with traumatic brain injury at 4, 8 and 12 months following injury. The results confirm prior studies showing that depression in very prevalent following TBI.
Overall, 42% of participants were diagnosed with either minor (13%) or major (29%) depression in the first year. A higher rate of major depression was found in mild TBI cases (concussion) compared to moderate/severe TBI (almost twice the percentage at 4 months, somewhat less so later on.) Not surprising, a higher rate of depression was also found in patients with a past history of depression (almost 3 times the rate in patients without a prior history.) The rate of major depression following TBI was 6 times greater than the general population.
Another important finding was that patients were just as likely to have persisting depression or get worse than recover, even with supportive services, highlighting the importance of continuous monitoring (e.g. scheduled screenings) over the months or even years following injury.
This information is important since depression, especially major depression, can interfere with recovery following TBI and in some cases can even be life threatening. As the authors point out, other studies have shown that patients with a history of TBI are 3 to 4 time more likely to commit suicide that individuals without a history of TBI.
The Bottom Line
Depression is the most common mental health issue following TBI. It cannot be ignored.