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Brain injury patterns linked to depression

Findings in a recent MRI study published in the journal Radiology show patterns in the brains of individuals with concussion-related depression and anxiety. This could lead to better treatment for New Yorkers suffering from these disorders,.

The mechanisms underlying changes in mental state after a mild traumatic brain injury, such as depression and anxiety, are not widely understood and conventional MRI results are often normal for most patients. Researchers, however, used diffusion tensor imaging which is an MRI technique that measures the integrity of white matter.This comprises the brain’s signal-transmitting nerve fibers. DTI can show whether injuries to the nerves may be the major cause of post-traumatic depression and anxiety.

The researchers compared DTI and neurocognitive testing results for post-concussion patients with post-concussion patients who had no neuropsychiatric symptoms. Unique white matter injury patterns were present in the patients who had depression or anxiety. Compared to the other patients without neuropsychiatric symptoms, these patients had decreased fractional anisotropy, or a measure of the structural integrity of the white matter connections, around an area near the gray matter of the brain that is related to the brain’s reward circuit.

Anxiety patients had diminished fractional anisotropy in a part of the brain, the vermis that helps decrease fear-related behaviors. The vermis has not been earlier associated with mental issues in non-traumatic brain disorders. Accordingly, researcher believe that different treatment targets should be used with patients who suffer anxiety after a concussion or trauma.

Treatments for non-trauma patients with neuropsychological symptoms may be successful for some concussion patients. This study also suggests that people who were diagnosed with non-traumatic depression may have had a subclinical traumatic event earlier in their lives that was a factor in their depression.

While this study shows that there may be new successful ways to treat patients with TBI, it also indicates that persons suffering from a brain injury may face complex health problems. Victims of a brain injury caused by another person’s negligence should seek legal assistance to help assure the compensation required for long-term treatment and rehabilitation.