Rapid brain development during adolescence is thought to be why most mental health issues emerge at this stage of life. While most teens experience some form of emotional upheaval, serious depression can occur, sometimes with a specific disturbance being the root cause. A recent study looked into childhood brain injury as a cause for adolescent depression, the first to examine this using a large sample.
How Are Brain Injuries Linking To Depression?
The study, which appeared in the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that children that have suffered a brain injury are nearly twice as likely to report symptoms of depression. The findings could help pediatricians identify children that are likely to develop mental health problems, and will no doubt lead to other studies examining links between health events during childhood and later mental health diagnoses.
The study’s findings relied on data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health, in which 2,034 children with brain injuries and concussions were identified. The survey found that the national brain injury rate among children was 1.9 percent in 2007. In addition there were 3,112 children that were diagnosed with depression. The number of children identified with depression mirrors the 2007 national child depression rate.
Led by study author Matthew C. Wylie, M.D., the researchers found that among children with brain injuries 15 percent were diagnosed with depression. This is 4.9 times the rate of depression among children that do not have a brain injury. The rates remained elevated after adjusting for variables such as developmental delays, physical health and family structure, though not as dramatically. Taking these predictors into account, the rate was twice that of children without brain injury.
The findings may help physicians identify children that are at an increased risk for developing depression. They also highlight the need for further research that examines the potential associations between health conditions in childhood and later mental health problems.
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Childhood Depression
Early intervention is key in the successful treatment of depressed teenagers. Once a diagnosis has been determined the clinician can evaluate the need for therapy and pharmacologically-based treatment.
In medication-based strategies there is often a trial-and-error approach to addressing symptoms. The first medication that a patient is prescribed may not be effective, or they may experience unpleasant side effects. In addition, it may take weeks for the medication to alleviate symptoms. As a result, by the time the patient is diagnosed and paired with a medication that is both effective and with minimal side effects several weeks may have elapsed. Therefore, the use of any information like that gleaned from the study can help individuals receive faster, more effective treatment.
The use of childhood health information to screen for later mental health problems may have the potential to significantly reduce the number of teens that suffer from depression. In addition, the study’s findings could serve to inform parents of the risks involved when their children participate in activities that are associated with an elevated risk for head injury.
Read About Different Signs Of Depression In Teens