Can a Car Accident Give You Serious Depression?

March 08 2019 | Personal Injury Lawyer Blog
  • The results of a new study on the psychological effects of suffering a traumatic brain injury further reiterate how serious and far-reaching the consequences of this condition may be to a victim.

    An estimated 5.3 million Americans, or 2% of the population, currently live with a disability related to a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Unfortunately, it seems that the general public still remains largely unaware of the scale of this problem and awareness of how serious the consequences may be of even a mild TBI seems to be limited as well. Now, however, a recently-published study on the link between mild traumatic brain injury and the risk of developing mental health problems sheds new light on the psychological upshot of this condition and offers hope for a better understanding of the struggles many TBI survivors experience in their daily lives.

    Scope of the Study

    The purpose of the study, whose results have recently been published in JAMA Psychology, a peer-reviewed medical journal, was to ascertain whether patients who are treated for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) are at a greater risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder or major depression. The analysis was conducted between 2014 and 2016 on a group of 1,155 patients who had suffered mTBI. As a control group, mental health-related outcomes of 230 other patients with orthopedic injuries not involving the head were subjected to the same analysis. Both groups included in the study were comprised of patients aged 17 or older seen in 11 hospital trauma centers across the United States.

    Mild TBI Linked to PTSD & Depression

    The mental health of all patients involved in the study was assessed at regular intervals for a year after the injury. The first evaluation was conducted shortly after suffering the trauma, then two weeks after the initial check-up, and then every three months. While instances of PTSD and depression were reported among patients in both groups at 3 and 6 months after the injury, those who suffered mTBI showed much greater prevalence of developing mental health issues.

    For example, while only 8.7% of patients who suffered non-head-related injuries developed PTSD or mild depression, the conditions were observed in as much as 20% of mTBI victims. At 6 months, the prevalence reached 12.1% vs 21.2% respectively. Interestingly, the risk of developing mental health issues after suffering a mild injury to the head was the greatest among patients who reported having such problems before the trauma occurred. Suffering a head injury as a result of assault or other violence was also found to be related to a much higher risk of PTSD or depression in comparison with other factors.

    Even though the authors of the study admit to possible limitations of their research – for example, as for now, the scope of the study doesn’t permit for the results to be generalized, or applied to patients in other hospitals, communities, or countries – they nevertheless stress that their findings “may have implications for surveillance and treatment of mental disorders after TBI”.

    No Such Thing as “Just a Mild Concussion”

    The findings of the study constitute yet more proof that even mild brain injury can have serious and extensive consequences for a person’s life and long-term health. Even a concussion – an injury that many tend to brush off as insignificant – may cause debilitating and distressing symptoms – both physical, mental, and emotional. Commenting on the study, Murray B. Stein – a medical doctor and a professor at the University of California San Diego who participated as a researcher – said: “Contrary to common assumptions, mild head injuries can cause long-term effects”. He also added that the findings “suggest that follow-up care after head injury, even for mild cases, is crucial”.

    During the course of our careers as personal injury attorneys, we have met many individuals whose personal, professional and family lives have been forever changed by a traumatic brain injury. While getting to know our clients who suffer from TBI, we are often reminded of how devastating this condition can be. We are also moved and encouraged by their resilience and determination to make the most of their situation despite their predicament. Our firm is fully committed to both providing best-quality legal representation to the victims of accidents who suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as to increasing public awareness of this serious health problem and related issues. Here you can read our other articles on the subject:

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