Depression has "additive effect" on mTBI symptoms

Woman Looking out of Window

Symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury, such as sleep disorders, memory impairment or attention problems, can overlap symptoms of depression. In the forensic setting, the distinction between symptoms of mTBI and depression is a critical one, but diagnostic mistakes can easily be made.

Recently, a study comparing mTBI patients with depression, mTBI patients without depression, and uninjured depressed patients showed that depression has an "additive effect" on the symptoms of mTBI. The researchers originally hypothesized that, based on past research, uninjured people with depression would report a similar level of symptoms as mTBI patients with depression. They were surprised to discover that the symptoms in depressed mTBI patients were both greater in number and in severity than uninjured depressed patients.

In the forensic setting, clinicians who diagnose patients claiming prolonged symptoms of mTBI can now differentiate those symptoms with the symptoms of depression alone by assessing symptom severity and overall number of symptoms.

Lange RT, Iverson G, & Rose A. Depression strongly influences postconcussion symptom reporting following mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (July 2010).