Teens with Concussion History Likely to Suffer Depression

iStock_000018345079SmallConcussions, which are mild traumatic brain injuries, never make for a pleasant experience no matter the severity of the concussion. Concussions can alter or entirely disrupt your sleeping pattern, whither your energy levels, swing your moods and can even temporarily impair your short term memory. And the negative side effects unfortunately don’t stop there.

According to a new study by the Journal of Adolescent Health, teenagers who have been concussed are three times more likely to suffer from depression than teenagers who have not been concussed. While a direct link between the two has still yet to be proven, countless stories of tragedy following concussed teens certainly means the possibility merits consideration. A short analysis of this information leads one to believe that all recently concussed kids should be screened for changes in their mental and emotional health.

Currently 20% of the more than 1 million young Americans who play organized football (inclusive of all age groups) sustain at least one concussion each year, including some 64,000 high school athletes. These statistics however are probably low estimates, as it’s likely that many concussions go unreported. Minor concussions can be difficult to detect and because of the rough and tumble attitude of football culture in this country, it’s also likely that major concussions also get ignored.

Though typically depression usually shows immediately following a concussion, it’s very likely depression is also a long lasting effect of the mildly traumatic brain injury and may or may not manifest later.

Lastly, anyone who thinks they may be suffering from any side effects of a recent or older concussion should see a medical professional. The following are side effects to look out for:

  • Headache or feeling head pressure
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or feelings of fogginess
  • Amnesia surrounding the event
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

You may also consider helping your teen outside of the professional health care they receive, to further facilitate their journey to recovery. For example, making sure they have full academic accommodations is very important; since their sleeping habits may be off, it will be easy to get behind in schoolwork. Talk with teachers and let them know of the situation, and make sure your child isn’t putting too much pressure on themselves to be immediately functional again. Suggesting they take up new pursuits or hobbies may also aid the recovery process, especially if they’re unable to continue with their usual pastimes.


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