With COVID-19 Depression May Impact TBI Recovery

For people with a traumatic brain injury who are diagnosed with depression, treatment for depression needs to be integrated into an overall rehabilitation treatment plan. If it’s not, successful long-term recovery from a traumatic brain injury may be difficult.

A traumatic brain injury happens when damage to a person’s head or body from an outside force — such as a fall, a vehicle collision or a sports injury — leads to problems with brain functions. A TBI can cause a wide variety of physical symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, weakness, numbness and loss of coordination, to name just a few. These injuries also frequently trigger cognitive or mental symptoms, including confusion, frequent mood changes, memory loss, and difficulty with reasoning or learning.

Common symptoms of depression include, among others, persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness; frequent tearfulness, anger, irritability or frustration; loss of interest or pleasure in activities a person usually enjoys; sleep problems; significant fatigue or lack of energy; changes in appetite; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; difficulty concentrating; problems with thinking and memory; and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Identifying symptoms of depression in someone who has a TBI can be tricky, because some depression symptoms may be mistaken for symptoms caused by the brain injury.

When depression is diagnosed along with a traumatic brain injury, treatment may include antidepressant medication and behavioral therapy — treatment options similar to those recommended for people with depression who are not dealing with a TBI.(