How Brain Injuries Cause Depression

Junior Seau’s recent suicide and a flurry of lawsuits from former NFL players have brought nationwide attention to traumatic brain injuries, and the eventual depression that can result from them. Seau’s suicide reminded many of Dave Duerson, a safety who killed himself in a similar manner (gunshot to the chest) and requested his brain be studied for a link between repetitive head injury and depression. Researchers confirmed that such a link existed.

When someone experiences a severe brain injury, it can alter the structure of the brain and block the flow of mood-regulating chemicals like nonrepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. Depression medications can adjust the flow of these chemicals (known as monoamines) to improve a person’s mood.

Some of Seau’s former teammates have said that he never mentioned being depressed because it would go against the linebacker mentality: just power through it. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, only 45 percent of depressed people receive proper treatment. The study also says that 53 percent of people who experience a traumatic brain injury will become depressed within the next year. There are 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That means at least 495,550 cases of depression go untreated every year in the U.S.

If you or someone you know experiences any of the following symptoms following a traumatic brain injury, it could be a sign of depression:

  • Lack of interest in former hobbies and activities
  • Dramatic shift in appetite
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Lack of energy
  • Negative, hopeless attitude
  • Difficulty with concentration and decision-making

Consult a doctor for information about possible treatments.

The Metier Law Firm, LLCDenver accident attorneys

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