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Why is depression after traumatic brain injury so difficult to treat?

traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is brain injury resulting from physical injury such as from a car crash or sport, is usually followed by depression. The depression that develops after traumatic brain injury typically doesn't respond to traditional treatments used for major depressive disorder.

This has led many clinicians to suspect that TBI depression is a distinct disease different from traditional major depression. A new study has validated that suspicion.

The researchers studied 273 adults with TBI and depression using MRI. They compared these people with others who didn't have TBI but had depression. The scan showed that the location of the brain circuit associated with depression was the same, with or without TBI. However, for people with TBI, the abnormalities were different from those without TBI but with depression.

This was more than enough evidence to prove that depression from TBI is distinct from regular major depression, and that's why conventional antidepressants do not work for it. Hence, a new personalized treatment has to be developed.

TBI is very common. According to the CDC, 2.5 million people sustain traumatic brain injury every year. Some are from falls, car accidents, sports, assaults, etc.

Aside from contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths, traumatic brain injury can lead to depression.

But for ages, the depression from TBI has been typically treatment-resistant. But as it stands, help’s on the way. Hopefully, these new findings will be a game changer as tailored treatments will be developed specifically for TBI depression.

If you've ever suffered traumatic brain injury, no matter how mild, it's best to seek help now even though you feel fine. Early treatment can help prevent more chronic symptoms from developing.

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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