Head Injury – Increased Risk Of Depression !

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According to a major new study, people who have experienced a head injury are more at risk of suffering from depression, yet they may not get the treatment they need.

Dr Charles H Bombardier of the University of Washington School Of Medicine, Seattle, and his colleagues, conducted research into the rates of major depression occurring in the first 12 months after experiencing a traumatic brain injury.

The study involved 559 adults with mild to severe Traumatic Brain Injury who were assessed by the researchers at regular intervals over the course of a year with telephone interviews conducted every month for the first six months and then at 8 months, 10 months and 12 months.

Most of those involved in the study were men who had been in road traffic accidents and who had sustained complicated but mild injuries. In order to assess the level of depression and anxiety, the researchers used Patient Health Questionnaire measures and the European Quality of Life measure at the 12 month point.

What the researchers found was that just over half of the participants in the study met the criteria for major depressive disorder at least once during the year. This rate of depression is a massive 8 times more common than in the general population. However, the depression may go untreated according to the researchers.

“Assessment and treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury typically focus on physical and cog­nitive impairments, yet psychological impairments represent significant causes of disability” said the study.

“Major Depressive Disorder may be the most com­mon and disabling psychiatric condi­tion in individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury. Poorer cognitive functioning, aggression and anxiety, greater functional disabil­ity, poorer recovery, higher rates of suicide attempts, and greater health care costs are thought to be associ­ated with Major Depressive Disorder after Traumatic Brain Injury”.

Less than half of those with Major Depressive Disorder received any antidepres­sants or counselling.

“Brain injuries themselves may cause changes in brain structure and function that predispose people to depression, says Dr Bombadier. But certain factors also seem to increase a person’s risk, including a history of alcohol abuse or depression before the injury.”

The researchers noted that those who had experienced traumatic brain injuries were at risk of depression for the first year and that this risk probably extends beyond 12 months.

Learn how I beat Depression

3 Comments

  1. Alan Waterman
    Posted August 5, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Patients who have suffered traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, as well as other neurological or orthopedic injury, often have severe upper or lower extremity movement impairments. In short they have difficulty in doing the everyday living tasks that others take for granted. On a practical treatment aspect, many brain and spinal cord injury patients do not have sufficient movement ability to enable them to do repetitive active tasks or the active tasks can not be customized to work on their specific motor, sensory or cognitive impairment. This may lead to frustration and then depression during rehabilitation. The HandTutor glove with biofeedback software allows many patients that do not have sufficient movement ability to enable them to do repetitive active tasks, or the active tasks can not be customized to work on their specific motor, sensory or cognitive impairment and aids rehabilitation.

  2. Bruce Lee
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    On June 13 th 2009 I was involved in a collision where a driver rammed me at 40 mph in the drivers side as I drove through a cross roads. My seat belt inertia let go and my head firstly went through the windscreen and then impacted my temple against the steel door pillar. I was doing 30 mph so we had a combined impact of approx 70mph.

    I was discharged at the scene, despite glass fragments in my head and a severe cut to my temple paramedics did not feel I merited a hospital visit.

    I went to hospital the next day and was turned away since I had not visited on the day of the collision. I have since then suffered deteriorated vision, persistent headaches, depression, anxiety, mood swings, lethargy and a multitude of other symptoms. The medical profession says I don’t have a problem. I suffered other unjuries to neck, spine , arm and knee. These are like a time bomb waiting to strike me down at anytime.

    I have lost my livelihood, I feel vulnerable and live in a state of almost unreality. Does any of this make sense to anyone?

  3. Sally Chewter
    Posted January 6, 2012 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    Bruce, my own brain injury ocurred on New Year’s Eve last year, so 12 months ago, and it was not due to an accident but to a sudden rupture of a cerebral aneurysm (bubble on an artery in my brain)which I had no idea was there, though they say I was probably born with it. I was in a coma for 7 weeks and incredibly confused for many weeks after that, but this has improved. Physiotherapy has also improved my physical problems greatly, but here in Spain where I live I got no help for the emotional fallout except for some sleeping tablets and mild antidepressants. I still struggle with daily anxiety and depression, a great wave of sadness washes over me about an hour after I wake and I used to cry for about 3 hours and had little interest anything, especially as I was more or less blind until both eyes were operated on to remove blood forced into them by the burst artery. I also had some deafness and tinnitus. It made socialising very difficult. But I spoke on the phone to a client of my husband’s website business who is a psychologist in California and he said I should set myself some little achievable tasks each day and force myself to do them, and go for a brisk arm-swinging walk daily, just enough to get slightly out of breath, force myself to socialise (easier now that I can walk again and my eyes and ears have improved somewhat). He also instructed me to keep a daily journal of my feelings, mood swings and activities so that I can monitor my progress. I have managed to do these things most days and I feel that the depression is slowly lifting, although I still have bad days. Bless you and I hope this may be of some little help, and that 2012 will be a much better year for you!
    Sally

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