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Traumatic Brain Injury in Individuals at High Risk for Psychosis

People who sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may experience common psychiatric issues such as depression, anxiety, and personality changes. Recent research suggests that TBI may also be a risk factor for less common psychiatric diagnoses, such as psychosis and late-onset development of schizophrenia. However, it has been difficult to conclude if a TBI causes the psychosis or if individuals with psychosis are more prone to sustain a TBI.

A recent study investigated the causal relationship between TBI and psychosis. Researchers assessed 747 participants with clinical high risk for psychosis (CHR) and 278 healthy controls (HCs) for history of TBI, age at first and most recent injury, TBI severity, psychotic symptoms, IQ, and history of bullying/emotional trauma.

The study found that:

  • The CHR group experienced mild TBIs more often than the HC participants.
  • CHR participants who had experienced a mild TBI experienced greater emotional trauma due to bullying than those who had not experienced a TBI.
  • CHR participants who did experience psychosis were significantly younger when they experienced their first TBI than those who did not experience psychosis.

A history of mild TBI is more common in individuals with a high clinical risk for psychosis than in individuals with low risk. Clinicians should account for each patients’ risk of psychosis when treating TBI.

Source: Deighton S, Buchy L, Cadenhead KS, et al. Traumatic brain injury in individuals at clinical high risk for psychosis. Schizophrenia Research. (May 2016).

If you or someone you know has sustained a traumatic brain injury after a preventable accident, contact a San Francisco brain injury lawyer at Scarlett Law Group.


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