Concussions May Be Depressing for Teens

Depression risk was higher in teenagers who had sustained a concussion

December 18, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

Rate This Article

2.65

(dailyRx News) Doctors have long suspected a link between depression and head injuries. A recent national study looked at this possible link in teenagers.

This study analyzed the results of a large, national survey administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The study suggested that teens had a higher risk for depression after receiving a concussion.

"Seek immediate medical attention at the first sign of a concussion."

This study was led by Sara P.D. Chrisman, MD, MPH, from the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University of Washington.

Dr. Chrisman and her team looked at data from 36,060 individuals between 12 and 17 years of age. Of these, 49.2 percent were female, 50.8 percent were male, 2.7 percent had a previous concussion and 3.4 percent had been diagnosed with depression.

The purpose of this study was to analyze the association between concussions and depression in adolescents with a large national data set.

The data originated from the 2007-2008 National Survey of Children’s Health, a national phone survey administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

This study showed that children who had sustained a concussion were 3.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than the children with no history of concussions.

The study also revealed an additional risk for depression associated with the older teens (ages 15 to 17 years) versus the younger teens (ages 12 to 14 years).

The researchers concluded that doctors should screen for depression in teens with previous concussions.

These researchers also pointed out that it was possible that the diagnosis of depression may have been influenced by the knowledge that the patient had a history of concussion. The concussion may also make the patient more likely to visit a medical professional than uninjured teens.

The researchers stated that the main weakness of their study was that it relied on the parents' reports of diagnosis of a concussion. This may have led to an underreporting of concussions in mild cases where symptoms were not easy for the parent to identify.

The researchers stated that the data was limited by an inability to show when a head injury occurred.

This study was published December 17 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

This research was supported by a National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Grant.

The researchers declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 18, 2013
Last Updated:
February 10, 2014