Youth Mood After TBI

Traumatic brain injuries increased the risk of mood disorders in young people

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

(RxWiki News) A car accident, fall from a bicycle or sports injury could result in a traumatic brain injury for a young adult. Even after the brain heals, a young person with a brain injury may still experience symptoms years later.

A new study looked at whether young people with traumatic brain injuries were more likely to develop mood disorders in the years after the trauma.

The study showed that teens and young adults who had experienced a traumatic brain injury were more at risk for mood disorders like depression than youth without a brain injury.

The researchers suggested that their findings should encourage health professionals to monitor young patients with traumatic brain injuries for possible mood disorders in the years after an injury.

"Seek help if your mood has changed after brain injury."

Meng-Che Tsai, MD, MSc, of the Institute of Clinical Medicine and the Department of Pediatrics at the National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Taiwan, led this study to discover more about traumatic brain injuries in adolescents and young adults.

Traumatic brain injuries, or TBI, occur when something strikes the head and injures the brain. TBI can lead to death in severe cases and sometimes cause permanent physical and emotional damage.

TBI are frequently caused by falls, sports injuries and violence. Adolescents and young adults tend to be victims of TBI due to traffic accidents, assaults and sports injuries.

This recent study looked at the frequency of mood disorders in adolescents and young adults who had experienced a TBI.

The researchers used data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database, which contains information on millions of patients.

These patients had received a TBI diagnosis between 2000 and 2004 and were between the ages of 10 and 24 when they had their injury. Altogether, 15,203 patients were included in the study.

Of the patients, 8,791 (57.8 percent) were male. Most of the patients were between 15 and 24 years old.

The researchers looked at data about the geographic area where patients lived and which healthcare plan they had been enrolled in, which gave some information about the patient's socioeconomic status.

The researchers also compared the patients with TBI to 76,015 other adolescents and young adults with similar characteristics but who had not had a TBI.

The patients selected were followed for five years. The researchers looked for any emerging mood disorder diagnoses, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and alcohol or substance abuse.

The researchers found that a significant number of participants with TBI — 451 or 2.97 percent — had developed mood disorders in the five years following the TBI. Only 1.52 percent of the control group (no TBI) had been diagnosed with a mood disorder.

Compared with the control group, patients with a TBI were at a higher risk for depression, bipolar disorder and unspecified mood disorders. Of the 15,203 patients, 309 (2.03 percent) were diagnosed with depression. Comparatively, 810 (1.07 percent) of the control group participants developed depression.

Young men who had experienced a TBI were more likely to develop a mood disorder when they were 15 to 19 years old, while young women were more likely to be diagnosed with one when they were 20 to 24.

Additionally, young people who had received a TBI but had not been hospitalized had a higher risk of developing a mood disorder compared to those who had spent time in the hospital after their injuries.

The researchers concluded that youth who experience TBIs seem to be at risk of developing mood disorders. They recommended that health professionals provide care for possible psychological consequences of a TBI in the years after the injury.

This study was published in The Journal of Pediatrics on October 10.

The authors did not disclose funding sources or conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 17, 2013
Last Updated:
January 2, 2014