Does TBI Increase Risk Of Depression?

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Traumatic brain injury as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” TBI can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning. The specific symptoms that develop because of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. For some, a TBI may only affect the exact location on the brain where the injury occurred, while for others a TBI could also affect surrounding tissues and cause damage to one’s brain in other areas apart from the initial site. Symptoms that present with TBIs can range in severity and duration. The nature of the symptoms can shift as some TBI symptoms may appear immediately and dissipate rather quickly, while others could present several days or weeks later, and some experienced symptoms may evolve over time. It is important to keep in mind that there are many contributing factors that will influence the aftermath of a TBI, including whether an individual develops depression.

Depression

Depression is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as major depressive disorder, and is sometimes referred to as clinical depression. It is characterized by persistent and intrusive depressive moods, and/ or a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities resulting in significant impairment in daily life. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life.” Surviving a TBI can be a highly emotional and traumatic experience. Research has concluded that risk of depression increases substantially post-TBI. There is no finite answer to the question: does TBI increase one’s risk of developing depression because each person is different as are the circumstances surrounding everyone’s TBI. However, it is safe to say that yes, anything, including sustaining a TBI, that interferes with the way one’s natural functioning brain operates could increase the risk of developing an array of adverse physiological effects, including depression.

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