Traumatic Brain Injury Leads to Major Depressive Disorder

High rate of depression following brain trauma

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Having a traumatic brain injury is a scary, life changing event. It is now known that the risk of developing major depression during the first year after a brain injury is quite high.

Scientists conducted a post-traumatic brain injury study (TBI) to identify the rate of major depression disorder (MDD) these patients develop.  If patients do develop MDD and don't treat it, they may experience poorer cognitive functioning, aggression and anxiety, greater functional disability, poorer recovery rates, higher rates of suicide, and much higher health care costs.

"After a traumatic brain injury, get treatment if you are depressed."

Dr. Charles Bombardier and his colleagues hope this study encourages physicians to anticipate and treat major depression disorder following their patients' traumatic brain injury.

The study found 53 percent of the patients hospitalized for TBI experienced major depressive disorder (MDD) at least one time after their TBI. Forty-four percent of these patients with MDD did not seek treatment.

Information was gathered from patients participating in four different interviews at various times after their injury: the first interview was conducted at the time of hospital admittance, the second interview was conducted after one month, the third interview was conducted after six months and the fourth interview was conducted at one year past their hospitalization.

In Depth

  • The study included 559 patients who had been hospitalized for traumatic brain disorder
  • 31% of the patients who developed MDD had it occur one month after their hospitalization 
  • 21% of the patients who developed MDD had it occur after six months
  • Those with MDD were more likely to report comorbid anxiety disorders after TBI than those without MDD (60% vs 7%)
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 9, 2011
Last Updated:
April 21, 2011