According to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) major depression following traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading and most disabling cause of psychiatric injury, regardless of degree and severity of the trauma. Despite the high incidents of major depression following TBI, it is often not treated, resulting in poor quality of life for victims. Of the 1,080 TBI patients admitted to a Seattle trauma center, 599 participated in the study between June 2001 and March 2005 were followed for 12 months. Participants, who were primarily men injured in auto accidents, exhibited signs of major depression eight times greater than that which would be expected in the general population.
According to Dr. Jesse R. Fann from the University of Washington School of Medicine and one of the studies’ principle researchers, “less than half of the people who were found to have major depression received any treatment during the first year”, despite the fact that major depression during the first year was associated with poor quality of life and ability to function. Treatment for TBI generally focuses on the injury and its effect on a person’s ability to think clearly. The researchers wanted to determine the frequency of severe major depression following a major traumatic brain injury and its affect on recovery. Excluding participants who were depressed at the time of injury, 49 percent of the remaining participants experienced “new” major depression. Researchers suspect that these estimates are “conservative” and underestimate the problem.
Victims who sustain traumatic brain injury in auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, or other accidents often do not appreciate the nature and extent of their injuries. Far too often they delay in getting the medical treatment they need and deserve, which may result in complications that could have potential devastating effects on their lives. Recognizing these and other complex issues is one of the many benefits of contacting an experienced personal injury attorney.