A new study was just presented at the American Headache Society (AHS) 56th Annual Scientific Meeting highlighting the interconnection between headache, depression and mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The researchers found that a year after suffering a mild TBI, patients with headache were about 5 times more likely to be depressed than patients with mild TBI without headache, and those patients who were depressed were more likely to suffer headaches, the study found.
“Early identification and treatment of both of these conditions may reduce their impact over time,” said lead researcher Sylvia Lucas MD, PhD, clinical professor of neurology and neurological surgery, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle.
“Hopefully more research will be directed at this to see if we can change the trajectories over time as well,” Lucas said.
The headache evaluation included information about incidence and prevalence of headache at baseline and at 3 subsequent points.
“We asked people if they had a headache at any point over 1 year, and we asked them to describe it,” she said. While most of the headaches were reported within 3 months of the injury, a substantial number of participants reported new or worsened headache after that.
The researchers found that 52% of patients had headache alone at baseline, and 43% had headache alone at 1 year. Depression without headache was somewhat rare: About 4% of the mild TBI patients had depression without headache at baseline, and 2% had it at 1 year.
Depression occurring along with headache was not rare; comorbidity increased from 11% at baseline to 25% at 1 year.
Said Dr. Lucas,” The majority of subjects who had headache and depression at baseline continued to have both at 1 year.
She stressed the importance of ongoing monitoring of TBI patients. “Even if we see these people early on in our clinic or in the emergency room and they have no symptoms, it’s certainly worth seeing them in follow-up.”
Some 2.3 million traumatic brain injuries happen each year in the U.S. This number does not include military-related injuries, or those who do not seek care. “So this figure is very much an underestimate,” said Dr. Lucas. medscape.com 7/3/14