Mental Health Disorders Common Following Mild Head Injury
A study published in JAMA
Psychiatry reveals that approximately 1 in 5 individuals may experience mental health symptoms up to 6 months after mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), suggesting the importance of follow-up care for these patients.
The study also identified factors that may increase the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or major depressive disorder following mild TBI through analysis of the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI) study cohort.
“Mental health disorders after concussion have been studied primarily in military populations, and not much is known about these outcomes in civilians,” said Patrick Bellgowan, PhD, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland. “These results may help guide follow-up care and suggest that doctors may need to pay particular attention to the mental state of patients many months after injury.”
For the study, Murray B. Stein, MD, University of California San Diego, San Diego, California, and colleagues investigated mental health outcomes in 1,155 people who had experienced a mild TBI and were treated in the emergency department. At 3, 6, and 12 months after injury, patients completed various questionnaires related to PTSD and major depressive disorder. For a comparison group, the researchers also surveyed individuals who had experienced orthopaedic traumatic injuries, such as broken legs, but did not have head injury.
The results showed that at 3 and 6 months after their injury, people who had experienced a mild TBI were more likely than orthopaedic trauma patients to report symptoms of PTSD and/or major depressive disorder.
At 3 months after injury, 20% of patients in the TBI group reported mental health symptoms compared with 8.7% of patients in the orthopaedic trauma group. At 6 months after injury, mental health symptoms were reported by 21.2% and 12.1%, respectively.
The researchers also used the data to determine risk factors for PTSD and major depressive disorder after mild TBI. The findings revealed that lower levels of education, self-identifying as African-American, and having a history of mental illness increased risk.
In addition, if the head injury was caused by an assault or other violent attack, this increased the risk of developing PTSD, but not major depressive disorder. However, risk of mental health symptoms was not associated with other injury-related occurrences such as duration of loss of consciousness or posttraumatic amnesia.
“Contrary to common assumptions, mild head injuries can cause long-term effects,” said Dr. Stein. “These findings suggest that follow-up care after head injury, even for mild cases, is crucial, especially for patients showing risk factors for PTSD or depression.”
“From my lecture on concussions…”
“There are massive chemical changes that go on in the brain with concussions. These chemical changes create potentially long lasting effects including an increased likelihood of Parkinson’s disease, dementia, depression, etc.…” Craig S. Rubenstein DC CCN DACBN FIACA
Article Reference: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/2722564
SOURCE: National Institutes of Health