Teasing Out Headache Symptoms from mTBI, and Depression.

Woman with Headache

It is very common for people who have sustained a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) to also experience headaches and depression. Because the symptoms of mTBI, headache, and depression often overlap (i.e., neck pain, photosensitivity, and dizziness), it can be difficult for a doctor to tease out the effects unique to the headache so that treatment can be targeted.

In a recent study, US veterans who sustained an mTBI and also experienced headache, and/or depression were examined during their first year of care to determine the relationship between the three. The research team found that mTBI was most associated with an acute onset of headache, but the combination of both PTSD and mTBI predicted the onset of headaches in general. Additionally, tinnitus, insomnia, and vertigo/dizziness were the most significant predictors of persistent headache. Finally, regardless of an mTBI diagnosis or not, insomnia was closely related to the onset of headaches

The results of this study may help target treatments towards reducing headache, such as managing tinnitus symptoms, addressing dizziness with vestibular rehabilitation, and treating insomnia.

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