Study Shows Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury More Likely to Experience Major Depression

It appears that a traumatic brain injury can do more than just cause a physical upset in an individual’s life. According to a recent Science Daily release, the majority of patients also experienced major depression.

This finding is the result of a study conducted by Charles H. Bombardier, Ph.D., of the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle. Dr. Bombardier and colleagues set out to determine the rate of major depressive disorder (MDD) during the first year after traumatic brain injury (TBI).

"TBI is a major cause of disability in the United States and a signa¬ture injury among wounded soldiers. Assessment and treatment of TBI typically focuses on physical and cog¬nitive impairments, yet psychological impairments represent significant causes of disability. MDD may be the most com¬mon and disabling psychiatric condi¬tion in individuals with TBI,” the authors wrote in the study.

In examining 559 hospitalized adults with complicated mild to severe TBI, during the first year after TBI, 297 of the patients met criteria for MDD at least once. Those participating in the study were mostly men injured in vehicle crashes who sustained complicated mild injuries.

Those with MDD were more likely to report any co-existing anxiety disorders after TBI than those without MDD, with results coming in at 60 percent versus 7 percent. Only 44 percent of those with MDD received antidepressants or counseling. In addition, MDD within the first year after TBI was associated with greater problems with mobility, usual activities and pain/discomfort.

The authors suggest that systematic integration of mental health services into standard care of patients with TBI may be necessary to improve long-term outcomes after TBI. Systematic depression screening and stepped-care treatment protocols should be integrated into routine outpatient care.

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