Chicago Health | Homepage
Risk for developing depression increases following traumatic brain injury

Risk for developing depression increases following traumatic brain injury

Mayo Clinic Q&A

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Is there a link between traumatic brain injury, or TBI, and depression? Would the treatment for depression in someone with a TBI be different than treatment for depression without this sort of injury?

ANSWER: Quite a bit of research has been done on this topic. The results clearly show that when people without any prior mental health concerns or history of depression suffer a traumatic brain injury, their risk for depression increases significantly. Some studies suggest that the risk for developing depression following a traumatic brain injury may be two to five times higher than in the rest of the population.

For people with a traumatic brain injury who are diagnosed with depression, treatment for depression needs to be integrated into an overall rehabilitation treatment plan. If it’s not, successful long-term recovery from a traumatic brain injury may be difficult.

A traumatic brain injury happens when damage to a person’s head or body from an outside force — such as a fall, a vehicle collision or a sports injury — leads to problems with brain functions. A TBI can cause a wide variety of physical symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, weakness, numbness and loss of coordination, to name just a few. These injuries also frequently trigger cognitive or mental symptoms, including confusion, frequent mood changes, memory loss and difficulty with reasoning or learning.

Because the damage that a moderate to severe TBI can cause is far-reaching, most people who have a significant brain injury require comprehensive rehabilitation that includes physical, social and cognitive therapies. The overall goal is to improve their ability to function, so they can perform daily tasks and take part in activities they enjoy.

Therapy may begin in the hospital and continue at an inpatient rehabilitation unit, a residential treatment facility or through outpatient services. The specific type of rehabilitation and how long treatment lasts depends on the severity of the brain injury and what part of the brain was injured.

Making progress in rehabilitation can be especially challenging when a TBI is complicated by undiagnosed depression. That’s why it is so important for health care providers to thoroughly screen people with a TBI for depression and to watch for signs of depression during the rehabilitation process.

Common symptoms of depression include, among others, persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness; frequent tearfulness, anger, irritability or frustration; loss of interest or pleasure in activities a person usually enjoys; sleep problems; significant fatigue or lack of energy; changes in appetite; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; difficulty concentrating; problems with thinking and memory; and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Identifying symptoms of depression in someone who has a TBI can be tricky, because some depression symptoms may be mistaken for symptoms caused by the brain injury.

When depression is diagnosed along with a traumatic brain injury, treatment may include antidepressant medication and behavioral therapy — treatment options similar to those recommended for people with depression who are not dealing with a TBI. But, treatment for depression needs to be carefully integrated into the overall TBI treatment plan, so recovery from the brain injury and depression can move forward together.

It is also worthwhile to note that TBI is not the only medical condition that can raise a person’s risk for developing depression. For example, cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack all can play a role in the onset of depression. If left untreated, depression often can lead to poor outcomes from these health problems, along with a decrease in a person’s quality of life overall.

If you or a loved one has experienced a TBI or another significant health concern, and you see symptoms of depression, do not ignore them. Talk to your health care provider or a mental health professional right away. Help and effective treatments for depression are available. — Craig Sawchuk, Ph.D., Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

(Mayo Clinic Q & A is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to MayoClinicQ&A@mayo.edu. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org.)

(c) 2016 MAYO FOUNDATION FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION AND RESEARCH. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

OCD?

OCD?

Misconceptions abound of a debilitating disorder By Lorna Collier Diana, 18, is a North Carolina high school senior

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I have spring allergies. Every

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

By Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. Harvard Health Blog I've read medical research studies that surprised me. I've

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

April 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
March 26, 2017 March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017
April 2, 2017 April 3, 2017 April 4, 2017 April 5, 2017 April 6, 2017 April 7, 2017 April 8, 2017
April 9, 2017 April 10, 2017 April 11, 2017 April 12, 2017 April 13, 2017 April 14, 2017 April 15, 2017
April 16, 2017 April 17, 2017 April 18, 2017 April 19, 2017 April 20, 2017 April 21, 2017 April 22, 2017
April 23, 2017 April 24, 2017 April 25, 2017 April 26, 2017 April 27, 2017 April 28, 2017 April 29, 2017
April 30, 2017 May 1, 2017 May 2, 2017 May 3, 2017 May 4, 2017 May 5, 2017 May 6, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives