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Traumatic Brain Injury Often Leads to Depression: Study

People who suffer a traumatic brain injury are at eight times the risk of being diagnosed with depression, according to the findings of a new study by U.S. researchers. 

More than half of all serious head injuries result in depression, and less than half of those who become depressed after a head injury receive the proper care, the study found. The traumatic brain injury (TBI) depression study was published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability world wide, with 1.4 to 1.7 million people suffering a traumatic brain injury each year. Such injuries often result in a victim requiring extensive medical treatment and permanent around-the-clock care.

Researchers at the Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, looked at 559 patients who suffered complicated mild to severe TBI. They found that 297 of them, about 53%, could be diagnosed as having major depressive disorder within the first year after suffering their injuries. That is eight times higher than the rate of diagnosis for the general public.

Equally troubling, researchers found that only 44% of those who suffered depression received counseling or any kind of treatment or medication to cope with their depression. Researchers concluded that the patients suffering from depression as a result of a TBI clearly reported lower quality of life than their peers.

The TBIs suffered by patients in the study were mostly the result of falls or automobile accidents. The study’s authors also pointed out that TBIs are also a common injury among soldiers, although this particular study looked at civilian participants. The U.S. Department of Defense estimates that as many as 360,000 U.S. soldiers have received TBIs serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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