Traumatic brain injury shows strong link to depression, but treatments lack study

( -- Vanderbilt researchers conducting an extensive analysis of studies on traumatic brain injury (TBI), report today that 30 percent of TBI patients, or approximately 360,000 patients each year, will also suffer from depression after their injury.

The report, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), examined existing research on civilian blunt force trauma typically resulting from , falls, assaults and .

TBI injuries result in 1.2 million visits each year, with 25 percent of patients requiring hospitalization, said study co-author Oscar Guillamondegui, M.D., assistant professor in Vanderbilt’s Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care.

“Any patient who has a is at a real risk for developing , short and long term,” Guillamondegui said. “It doesn’t matter where on the timeline that you check the patient population – six months, 12 months, two years, five years – the prevalence is always around 30 percent across the board. In the general population about 9 percent to 10 percent of people have depression.”

The findings are especially important when considering that studies are lacking as to whether available depression medications are a safe and effective treatment for persons with a brain injury.

“Even though it is possible that individuals with TBI and depression may warrant different approaches to treatment than the general population with depression, there were only two studies of treatment in this population,” said co-author Melissa McPheeters, Ph.D., co-director of the Vanderbilt Evidence-Based Practice Center.

“It's unacceptable, with so many people sustaining TBIs - both in combat and civilian life - that we know so little about treating depression in this population.”

The authors said TBI is also likely under-reported due to the high prevalence of mild injury where patients might not go to the emergency department.

“Patients and their families need to know about this,” McPheeters said. “They need to know what to look for because they are the ones who will see the changes first.”

Guillamondegui said practitioners should ask about history of TBI and follow-up when they hear symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, anxiety and sleeplessness.

Provided by Vanderbilt Medical Center
Citation: Traumatic brain injury shows strong link to depression, but treatments lack study (2011, April 14) retrieved 21 July 2019 from
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Apr 16, 2011
As a survivor, I can say that I agree. As an author, I feel compelled to tell you about my books that can help other survivors and their loved ones: "Brain Injury Rewiring for Survivors: A Lifeline to New Connections" and "Brain Injury Rewiring for Loved Ones: A Lifeline to New Connections" (Idyll Arbor, 2010).

This well-researched paired set is invaluable for health professionals, too. My world wide website, "rewiring dot org" tells about me and my books, which are also available at many libraries, book stores, and Amazon.

With faith, hope, work--and TLC from others, we CAN rewire!


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