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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Mental Health Disorders Common Following Mild Head Injury

A new study reveals that approximately 1 in 5 individuals may experience mental health symptoms up to 6 months after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), suggesting the importance of follow-up care for these patients. Scientists also identified factors that may increase the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or major depressive disorder following mTBI or concussion through analysis of the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI) study cohort. The study was supported by NINDS. Findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Mental health disorders after concussion have been studied primarily in military populations, and not much is known about these outcomes in civilians,” said Dr. Patrick Bellgowan of NINDS. “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.” 

In the study, Dr. Murray Stein at the University of California, San Diego, and his 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, study participants completed various questionnaires related to PTSD and major depressive disorder. For a comparison group, the researchers also surveyed individuals who had experienced orthopedic traumatic injuries, such as broken legs, but did not have head injury.

The results showed that at 3 and 6 months following injury, people who had experienced mTBI were more likely than orthopedic trauma patients to report symptoms of PTSD and/or major depressive disorder.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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Associate Editor: Carla Garnett
Carla.Garnett@nih.gov

Staff Writers:

Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov

Dana Talesnik
Dana.Talesnik@nih.gov

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