A head injury can do a lot more damage than what a person might be able to feel physically. It can cause serious mental health issues. According to a study that recently appeared in JAMA Psychiatry, approximately 20% of people who suffer even a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) will experience some type of mental health disorder within six months. These can include a major depressive disorder and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The study, which followed over 1,100 people who were treated in an emergency room for mTBI, identified some risk factors that made certain patients more likely to develop one of these disorders following their injury. The disorders were more common in:
- African Americans
- People with a history of mental illness
- People with lower education levels
Those whose injury resulted from a violent attack were more likely to develop PTSD but not more prone to have a major depressive disorder.
The doctor who led the study says, “Contrary to common assumptions, mild head injuries can cause long-term effects. These findings suggest that follow-up care after head injury, even for mild cases, is crucial, especially for patients showing risk factors for PTSD or depression,”
An official with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) agrees that the findings “suggest that doctors may need to pay particular attention to the mental state of patients many months after injury.”
If you have suffered even a mild head injury at work, it’s essential to get a complete and accurate picture of what type of medical and mental health may be needed down the road — not just in the immediate aftermath of the injury. This can help you determine what kind of workers’ compensation and perhaps other monetary compensation you need to seek to get the necessary care you need and take care of your family.