The long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are well-documented. Depending on the severity and the type of damage, a victim may have physical or mobility issues, cognitive issues, or psychological issues for the rest of their lives. Each of these effects is serious, of course, and the long-term care has largely been holistic: treating the physical and cognitive decline can help with the emotional or psychological trauma, and learning coping mechanisms can help motivate a TBI victim to keep up with therapy. It’s cyclical.
But perhaps it should not be. Many TBI victims develop depression as a result of their injuries. Researchers believe, however, that depression after a traumatic brain injury is different from depression that people develop without a brain injury. According to a recent article published by NBC News, there’s a new medical term for TBI-induced depression: TBI affective disorder.
What did the researchers conducting the study find?
The researchers explained their findings in the American Association for the Advancement of Science journal. They stated that depression that arises after a traumatic brain injury is “clinically distinct” from other types of depression (primary major depressive disorder). Therefore, this type of depression is not treatable in the same way that other forms of depression are. The researchers backed up their claims showing the difference between depression after a traumatic brain injury and primary major depressive disorder. They used precision functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) mapping from five different patient cohorts to show the distinct differences between traumatic brain injuries, primary major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.
The study showed that depression after a traumatic brain injury affects certain parts of the brain differently. For example, there’s a part of the brain called the subgenual cingulate cortex, and it helps to regulate emotions. And there are other parts of the brain, called the dorsal attention network (or DAN, which kicks in when you’re focused on a task) and the default mode network (or DMN, which is more active when you’re not focused). What the study found is that, in TBI victims, the connectivity between that subgenual cingulate cortex and the DAN and DMN changes in ways that it doesn’t for other folks with depression.
Many people who have depression after a traumatic brain injury do not show much sign of improvement when given medical treatment options for typical depression. Therefore, this new breakthrough may be able to help people get the proper treatment options they need and deserve.
What are the signs of traumatic brain injuries?
Here are some of the symptoms that may indicate that you have a traumatic brain injury:
- Speaking and communication problems
- Feeling dizzy
- Vision issues
- Ear ringing
- Odd tastes
- Sound or light sensitivity
- Inability to remember certain things
- Mood swings
- Feeling confused
- Sleep changes
- Loss of consciousness
How to know if you have depression after a traumatic brain injury
The Mayo Clinic explains that individuals suffering a traumatic brain injury are at high risk for developing depression. In fact, their chances of experiencing depression are “two to five times higher” than individuals without traumatic brain injuries. If you believe that you may have depression after injuring your head or skull, it is crucial that you let your doctor know about your symptoms as soon as possible. This will ensure that you receive an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs to help you combat this issue. Some of the most common symptoms that emerge from depression are:
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling sad
- Frequent crying
- Increased anger
- Increased frustration
- Feeling empty
- No interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Sleep pattern changes
- Feeling tired
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Memory problems
- Feeling worthless
What types of accidents can cause a traumatic brain injury?
People usually get traumatic brain injuries by hitting or getting hit by an object. However, traumatic brain injuries can also be caused by violence, a bullet piercing the skull, or intense shaking. There are a variety of different accidents that can cause traumatic brain injuries, such as:
- Car accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Violence, abuse, or assault
- Construction accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability accidents
- Work accidents
- Train and bus accidents
- Sports accidents
Can you seek damages for depression from a traumatic brain injury?
If you suffered a TBI due to someone else’s negligence and developed TBI affective disorder as a result, yes – you can seek damages (compensation) for your condition. In Pennsylvania, medical expenses as well as physical and mental suffering are all compensable under the law. Assuming TBI affective disorder is considered a chronic condition, as clinical depression is, then this is an effect you will live with for the rest of your life. It will absolutely affect your quality of life, and it may leave you unable to work. For this reason, you can seek damages for any loss of future earning potential along with any lost wages.
If you suffer a traumatic brain injury due to someone else’s recklessness or carelessness, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys at Carmody & Ging as quickly as possible. Our team is ready and available to discuss your legal options, protect your legal rights, collect evidence to support your case, and file a traumatic brain injury claim on your behalf. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free case review at our Pittsburgh office today.