Brain Injury Risk Factor for Depression in Teens

Depression risk may increase with concussions in teens

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

(RxWiki News) It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. And in your teens’ case, that concussion could lead to depression.

A recent study found that teenagers with a history of concussion had a higher risk for a depression diagnosis than those who have not had a concussion.

Also linked to a depression diagnosis were poor and fair parental mental health and age.

The researchers concluded that clinicians should screen for depression in teens with brain injuries.

"Ask your child’s doctor about depression."

Sara P.D. Chrisman, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, examined responses from the National Survey of Children’s Health, a nationwide telephone survey of parents and caregivers with children between ages 12 and 17 conducted in 2007.

Parents or caregivers were asked if their child had ever been diagnosed with depression by a clinician and if their child had ever been diagnosed with, or had experienced, a brain injury or concussion.

Of the 36,060 eligible responses, 2.7 percent had a history of concussion and 1,278 (3.4 percent) had a current depression diagnosis. There were more males than females (50.8 percent vs 49.2 percent) and slightly more younger adolescents than older adolescents (50.8 percent vs 49.2 percent).

A history of concussion was linked to a 3.3-fold greater risk for depression diagnosis compared to the absence of a brain injury.

Older adolescents (15-17 years old) were at a 1.4 times greater risk for depression than younger adolescents (12-14 years old).

Poor or fair paternal or maternal mental health was associated with a 3.7 times greater risk for depression compared with parental mental health rated as excellent, very good or good.

The researchers acknowledged a brain injury could bring more adolescents into physician offices, which accounts for the increase in depression diagnoses. Many of the symptoms of concussion are also symptoms of depression (sleep difficulties, irritability and fatigue), and it is possible the diagnoses were confused.

These researchers acknowledged the limitations of retroactive, parent-reported data.

This study appeared in the December issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The research was funded by a National Institute of Health Loan Repayment Grant.

Review Date: 
January 14, 2014
Last Updated:
January 15, 2014