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Major Depression Often Follows Brain Injury
Date:5/18/2010

Patients, including many veterans, are at 8 times the risk after head trauma, study finds

TUESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- People who are hospitalized for a traumatic brain injury face an almost eight-fold higher risk of also suffering major depression.

That's the finding of a team led by Charles H. Bombardier, professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle and first author of a study published in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bombardier spoke Tuesday at a special JAMA teleconference, held to present findings from a number of studies focused on mental health.

Other studies in the same issue of the journal describe a treatment method for anxiety disorders that may provide help in primary-care settings, and a Detroit depression-care program that has dramatically reduced the number of suicides among patients at one hospital.

According to Bombardier, some 6 million people in the United States are living with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and have significant disability as a result. Major causes of traumatic brain injury include vehicle accidents, blunt injuries to the head and penetrating wounds such as gun shots. It is also a "signature injury" among soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, the study stated.

In this study of 559 patients with traumatic brain injury, more than half (53.1 percent) also endured major depressive disorder at some point during the study follow-up.

In terms of risk factors, patients with major depression at the time of their injury or before their injury, as well as those who were younger and those who reported alcohol dependence, were most likely to suffer depression after head trauma. Those who were diagnosed with major depression were also more likely to have anxiety disorders, the researchers found.

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