Research Reports - Depressive symptoms and psychological distress during the first five years after traumatic brain injury

J Rehabil Med. 2013 Sep 3;45(8):808-14

Sigurdardottir S, Andelic N, Roe C, Schanke AK

Objective: To determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms among individuals
with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to identify predictors of depressive
symptoms and psychological distress. Design: A longitudinal study with
assessments at 3 months, 1 year and 5 years after injury. Subjects: A total of
118 individuals (29% females; mean age 32.5; range 16-55 years) with
mild-to-severe TBI who were hospitalized in the Trauma Referral Centre from 2005
to 2007. Methods: Self-report assessments using the Hospital Anxiety- and
Depression Scale, the Symptom Checklist 90-Revised and the Fatigue Severity
Scale. Injury severity, trauma scores, pain, fatigue, substance abuse and
demographic characteristics were also recorded. Results: The prevalence of
depressive symptoms was 18% at 3 months, 13% at 1 year and 18% at 5 years after
injury. Only 4% had persistent depressive symptoms at all time-points. At 1 year
post-injury, anxiety, age, ongoing stressors and employment status predicted
depressive symptoms (R2 = 0.43, p < 0.001), and ongoing stressors, employment
status, fatigue and pain predicted psychological distress (R2 = 0.45, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Psychosocial stressors and employment status contributed to
depressive symptoms and psychological distress, whereas injury severity did not
have any predictive value. The prevalence of depressive symptoms remained stable
over time, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and treating depression
early after the injury.

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