A new study featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) details why major depression after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the most significant and disabling cause of psychiatric injury, irrespective of the degree and severity of the brain trauma. Unfortunately, despite the high number of people suffering from major depression following TBI, most cases go untreated, resulting in poor quality of life for those injured. Of the 1,080 TBI patients at a Seattle trauma center, 599, primarily men injured in car accidents, participated in the study between June 2001 and March 2005 and were followed for 12 months. The participants overwhelmingly exhibited symptoms of major depression at an alarming rate, eight times greater than that which would be expected in the general population.
Dr. Jesse R. Fann from the University of Washington School of Medicine, who is one of the studies’ principle researchers stated that “less than half of the people who were found to have major depression received any treatment during the first year.” The absence of treatment was a significant factor despite the fact that major depression during the first year was associated with poor quality of life and ability to function. In most cases, the treatment of patients suffering from traumatic brain injury generally focuses on the injury and its effect on a person’s ability to think clearly. The researchers who conducted the study wanted to determine the frequency of severe major depression following a major traumatic brain injury and its affect on recovery. Excluding participants who suffered from preexisting depression at the time of injury, almost half of the remaining participants experienced “new” major depression. Researchers suspect that these estimates are “conservative” and underestimate the problem.
Accident victims who suffer from traumatic brain injury in auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents or other accidents in most cases do not appreciate the nature and extent of their injuries. In many instances they delay in getting a prompt evaluation and the treatment they need and deserve, which can result in complications that could have potential life long effects on their lives. Having the experience and knowledge of these and other complex issues is one of the many benefits of consulting an experienced personal injury attorney.