A report recently published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation reveals that children who have sustained a traumatic brain injury may end up dealing with the psychological effects more than a decade following the incident.
Researchers reveal in the report that the psychological effects may include depression, phobias, and anxiety.
“The study suggests that brain injury is in some way related to longer-term anxiety symptoms, while previously it was thought that brain injury only leads to short-term effects,” lead author Michelle Albicini in an email to the Huffington Post. “The anxiety may have many causes, including actual brain damage or the experience of living in an anxious family environment after the injury, said Albicini, a researcher at Monash University School of Psychological Sciences in Melbourne, Australia.”
The researchers reportedly discovered that children who sustain a moderate to severe brain injury, mainly girls, are at greater risk to experience long-term psychological effects compared to boys and children who sustained only a mild brain injury.
The researchers say in the report that more research is needed to fully understand the long-term psychological effects.
“To explore the question they recruited young adults who had been treated at a New Zealand hospital for a traumatic brain injury five or more years earlier, when they were younger than 18 years old,” the article reads. “For comparison, the researchers also recruited a similar group of young adults who were treated for childhood orthopedic injuries like broken arms or legs but had no history of brain injury.”
Each child met with a psychologist for diagnostic interviews where they were screened for various psychological disorders, including depression, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic attacks.
“This revealed that compared to people with no brain injuries, those with any type of TBI were five times more likely to have an anxiety disorder. People with past brain injuries were also about four times more likely to suffer from panic attacks, specific phobias and depression,” the article reads. “Those with moderate-severe brain injuries had the highest overall rates of anxiety disorders and were most likely to suffer from multiple anxiety disorders at once.”
The authors do note that women (without a brain injury) are already four times more likely to have an anxiety disorder compared to men.