Head Trauma Leads To Depression

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Under extensive analysis it has been determined, that up to 30% of patients who enter hospital with a traumatic brain injury will suffer from depression in the wake of the injury.

For the study, already existing data about blunt force trauma from falls, assaults, sporting injuries and motor vehicle accidents was taken.

This report was conducted by (AHRQ) the Agency for Healthcare Research.

In the United States more than 1 million emergency room visits each year are down to blunt force trauma, a quarter of these will need to be hospitalised.

Risk Factor

The study co author Oscar Guillamondegui M.D at Vanderbilt’s Division of Surgical Critical Care and Trauma, sees brain injury as a major risk factor for depression. This is in the long and the short term, with the co author also stating that his findings have determined that it is 30% right across the board, whether it is five years five months or five weeks after the accident.

It has been found by him that there is a very real risk of developing depression for anyone who has received a blunt force trauma to the head.


The reason why this analysis of data and study is important is that to date researchers and doctors have been looking to answer the question, if there are any medications that can be used to treat depression for those who have experienced brain injury.

To date there were only two studies of treatment for these persons conducted.  Many in the medical profession feel that it is not acceptable that given the number of traumatic brain injuries occurring in battle, and in civilian life that there is so little known about treating depression in these people.


The authors of the study reckon that there is an underreporting of traumatic brain injury, as many do not go to the emergency room when they assume they have just suffered a mild injury. It is families and friends the doctors point out, who are being relied on in this instance to see the changes demonstrated in demeanour after such an event.

Other Effects

It is not only depression that can be caused as a direct result of head trauma. A severe blow to the head can influence the mood of the individual in many ways. So too it can cause behaviour problems. Often depression as a result of a blunt force trauma to the skull is confused with loss of self esteem or frustration, yet these are merely symptoms of the condition.


It is not only when the head itself is hit hard that this depression has been observed. It can also occur when there is a strike of the brain against the inside of the skull. One of the main factors where this kind of strike is observed is during car accidents, when the occupant receives what is known as whiplash.

There is a severe problem with underreporting in this area, leading many not to link the later emergence of depression to the earlier head trauma.


Other mood changes that have been observed in these individuals as a result of head trauma were increases in irritability, so too it was likely that they would become increasingly aggressive. Panic attacks and an inability to control feelings are two other outcomes of a severe blunt force trauma to the head.

Elongated Recovery

Whilst the scars may heal, and the broken bones of injury mend, the onslaught of depression can be longer lasting than any of the physical repercussions. It is important that this is understood by the patient, and that treatment for the depression is sought out when the condition manifests.

Thankfully now that this information is out there, doctors will be informed to warn patients of the risks of developing depression after they have been in an accident where there was a blow inflicted to the skull.

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