IDK: Head trauma and mental illness
The brain is fairly well-protected compared to many other organs and rightfully so. The mind is the center of being, deciding every bodily function in one way or another. Damage to this crucially important organ is bound to create effects in perception and mental processing. While many studies have looked at brain trauma, the largest one yet was published in 2014 and shed more light on the relationship between head trauma and mental illness.
Physician Sonja Orlovska of the University of Copenhagen studied 113,906 people who experienced head injuries and received medical treatment over a 23-year period, according to Danish records. Orlovska and her colleagues not only noticed typical symptoms of mental illness such as delirium, or severe confusion, but also noted that patients developed higher risks of schizophrenia and depression. The first year following the injury presents the highest chances of developing mental health problems; elevated chances of mental health disorder diagnosis persisted 15 years following initial concussion treatment.
Researchers made sure to control for accident proneness and family history of mental problems when evaluating results.
“Previous studies have shown that head injury induces inflammation in the brain, which causes several changes—for example, an increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier,” Orlovska said.
Direct treatment for patients experiencing mental illness after head trauma does not yet exist but experts recommend medical practitioners follow the usual procedure for concussion patients to increase comfort and minimize some side effects short and long-term.
Symptoms of a concussion include brief loss of consciousness, memory problems, aforementioned confusion, headaches and other symptoms recognized by medical professionals. Changes in mood and personality are common in severe injuries as well.
While severe concussions that result in brain swelling or bleeding may require surgical intervention and hospitalization, most injuries in this classification require less intense treatments. Doctors will recommend patients sleep no more than two to three hours at a time one day after injury to ensure he or she does not go into a coma.
It’s also best to take medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to deal with possible headaches. Resting following any type of activity — even driving — can be necessary for days or months after the damage is done. Doing otherwise and experiencing a second concussion before healing is complete can result in second impact syndrome (SIS), causing brain swelling, possibly to the point of death.
Medical and mental health professionals with Sovereign Health Group evaluate each client upon admission to understand the origin of the mental illness. Only in this way can patients experience a lasting recovery from mental illness. Call today for a consultation and referral.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer