How Common Is Depression After Moderate or Severe Brain Injury?

Question: 

How prevalent is depression after a moderate to severe brain injury?

Answer: 

Depression or major depression is significantly more common after traumatic brain injury than in the general population. For example, in the year following moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, about half the people will have an episode of major depression compared to only about 7 percent in the general population over a one-year period. This would mean that depression is about seven to eight times more frequent after a traumatic brain injury. If you go out seven to eight years post injury, up to about two-thirds of people with traumatic brain injury will have developed a major depression. As a comparison, about 15 to 20 percent of the general population in their lifetime will have suffered a major depressive episode.

Related Resources

Posted on BrainLine August 7, 2018.

About the author: Jesse Fann, MD

Jesse Fann, M.D., M.P.H., is a consultation-liaison psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington and an adjunct professor in the UW departments of Rehabilitation Medicine and Epidemiology. His clinical interests include consultation-liaison psychiatry, psychiatric oncology and neuropsychiatry. His research interests include psychiatric epidemiology, health services research, psychiatric oncology and neuropsychiatry.