Adolescents face risk of depressive symptoms immediately following a concussion

The research, from Penn Nursing and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, underscores the need for more comprehensive screening when caring for adolescents who suffer a concussion.

Concussions are already a growing public health concern, and evidence suggests that concussed patients are at an increased risk of various psychiatric effects. However, most studies have looked at an adult population, and relatively few have examined how concussions affect the mental health of adolescents. Poor mental health can negatively impact recovery from a concussion, and since nearly one in four teens has suffered at least one concussion, properly identifying psychiatric concerns is critical in order to get adolescents back on track.

A teenager lying on their back in a hospital bed.

Researchers from Penn Nursing and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) conducted a prospective study to assess mental health symptoms within the first 28 days after the injury and compare their results with non-concussed adolescents. By doing this, the study could focus on whether early screening can detect symptoms of depression or anxiety early on so that symptoms can be identified and treated earlier, preventing long-term consequences.

“Our study found that a meaningful number of kids report depressive symptoms when we screened for them within the first month of a concussion injury,” says senior study author Catherine McDonald, associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Health at Penn Nursing and a senior fellow with CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention. “It is important that frontline providers regularly screen for depression as a component of concussion care.”

Read more at Penn Nursing News.