Concussion causes emotional disturbances, say researchers

April 13, 2004

Researchers from the University of Toronto and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute have documented negative mood disturbances such as depression and confusion resulting from sports concussions for the first time.

The study, which appears in the March issue of the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, used injured athletes to chart the course of emotional recovery after a concussion. The researchers found that concussed athletes were not emotionally different from their peers before injury, but were more depressed and confused than their uninjured teammates after sustaining a concussion.

"Our results support a causal link between sports injury and subsequent emotional distress," says Lynda Mainwaring, a registered psychologist and associate professor in U of T's Faculty of Physical Education and Health. "Moreover, it highlights emotional changes that result from brain injury, which may help us determine when people are completely healed from a concussion." She notes that there has been little research into the emotional impact of concussions and subsequent recovery.

Three groups were used in the study - concussed athletes, uninjured teammates of the concussed athletes and healthy, physically active undergraduate students. Baseline mood state for athletes (members of U of T Varsity sports teams) was measured during a pre-season medical and neurological assessment. Those athletes who suffered a concussion during the season were then repeatedly reassessed in the weeks after injury.

The study found that the depression, confusion and total mood disturbance that resulted from the concussion disappeared within three weeks. There were also different rates of decrease for each emotion - depression resolved in approximately seven days while confusion and total mood disturbance took 17 to 21 days. Post-injury mood disturbances were not a result of the injured athlete's pre-injury emotional state.

According to Mainwaring and her colleagues at Toronto Rehab, the data they have generated could serve as a benchmark of emotional recovery from brain injury. "Because athletes are typically highly motivated to return to play, there's little risk that they will exaggerate their emotional symptoms."

A comparison of pre- and post-concussion emotional profiles of athletes to the emotional profiles of a healthy functioning comparison group could also highlight important emotional changes that result from brain injury, as well as point to different patterns of recovery. This information will help researchers obtain a clearer understanding of psychological recovery from sports injury that will eventually guide the clinical management of all types of injury, in particular short-term concussions.

According to Sean Bisschop, a research associate in Toronto Rehab's neurology service, these findings let people know that emotional changes are common after concussion and they should report mood changes to their clinician, just like any other symptom of concussion.

"This research is an exciting first step in our exploration of how mood interacts with the frequently discussed cognitive deficits that accompany concussion," Bisschop adds.

Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI), are a result of an alteration of consciousness that does not necessarily cause someone to lose consciousness. Physical symptoms of concussion include blurred vision, headache, dizziness and loss of coordination.
-end-
CONTACT:

Lynda Mainwaring
University of Toronto
Faculty of Physical Education and Health
Phone: 416-946-5134
Email: lynda.mainwaring@utoronto.ca

Selina Khan
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Health Marketing and Public Affairs
Phone: 416-597-3422 x3425
Email: khan.selina@torontorehab.on.ca

Lanna Crucefix
University of Toronto
Faculty of Physical Education and Health, Communications
Phone: 416-946-5125
Email: lanna.crucefix@utoronto.ca

University of Toronto

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.