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?
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.
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 itís not,
successful long-term recovery from a traumatic brain injury
may be difficult.
traumatic brain injury happens when damage to a personís
head or body from an outside force ó such as a fall, a
vehicle collision or a sports injury ó 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.
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.
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
progress in rehabilitation can be especially challenging when
a TBI is complicated by undiagnosed depression. Thatís 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.
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.
depression is diagnosed along with a traumatic brain injury,
treatment may include antidepressant medication and behavioral
therapy ó 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.
also worthwhile to note that TBI is not the only medical
condition that can raise a personís 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 personís
quality of life overall.
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.