No connection between concussion history and depression: study

No connection between concussion history and depression: study

PanARMENIAN.Net - Physical problems such as body pain are a key pathway between sport-related concussions and depression, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. The research, which examined retired NFL athletes, found there was no connection between concussion history and depressive symptoms among those without physical symptoms, PsyPost says.

“Our interest arose from the amount and type of media coverage focusing on the mental health of retired NFL athletes and possible mood symptoms often attributed to chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” study authors Scott L. Zuckerman, the co-director for research at the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center, and Benjamin Brett, a postdoctoral research fellow the Medical College of Wisconsin, told PsyPost.

“While it often gets portrayed that sustaining sport-related concussions while playing contact sports at any level will increase the risk of future mental health problems in former athletes, clinicians who are in the field treating these individuals know that it is a much more complex process and the source of psychiatric symptoms can be multifaceted.”

“In other words, not all former athletes who sustained a sport-related concussion (or multiple) will inevitably develop mood symptoms, such as depression, later in life and other factors likely play a role in this process. In that light, we wanted to further investigate the relationship between the number of self-reported concussions and depression symptoms in former NFL athletes, examining additional factors (i.e., somatic or physical symptoms) that may have an influence or moderate this relationship.”

The researchers had 43 former NFL athletes complete a battery of surveys, which were designed to measure clinical depression and somatic symptoms such as pain, dizziness and shortness of breath. The researchers also obtained a detailed head injury and concussion history from every participant.

The players reported an average of 8.7 sport-related concussions. Concussions and depressive symptoms were significantly moderated by somatic symptoms. In other words, former NFL players with more concussions tended to report more somatic symptoms, which in turn was associated with depression.

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