A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that patients who suffer traumatic brain injuries are much more likely than the general population to suffer from clinical depression. Researchers from the University of Washington discovered that people who have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) are eight (8) times more likely than the uninjured people to suffer from depression. And the researcher believes this number is conservative.
Doctors are seeing the study as validation for what they’ve seen going on with their patients for years. For example, the Los Angeles Times quoted David Hovda of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center as saying, “Major depressive disorder can have severe consequences for recovery from TBI.
One interesting piece of the research revealed that the severity of the brain injury was a poor predictor of whether the brain-injured person would suffer from depression. While most of the people who suffered very serious brain injuries had significant depression, many who had mild and moderate brain injuries also were significantly depressed. Researchers found that people who were depressed before their brain injuries, or who had prior psychiatric problems, had are higher rates of post-injury depression. Similarly, patients who were involved in litigation were more likely to be depressed than those who were not.
This study mirrors our experience representing brain-injured people. Depression has been a very common consequence of brain injury with our clients. In fact, in one case the depression after a very serious brain injury became so severe that our client took her own life with an overdose of the several medications she was taking. Further, it has been our frequent experience that the litigation process tends to aggravate brain injury-related depression — making our clients’ conditions worse in many ways. It is my belief that this is known by insurance companies and the lawyers that represent them, and is but one more tactic used to put more pressure on our clients to give in and resolve their claims.