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Post-concussion Syndrome

A concussion, also referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), results from an injury to the head. This can result from an accident, such as a motor vehicle accident or a fall, and can also occur following significant shaking or movement of the head, for example, when our head or body is thrown around in a car accident, even if there has been no obvious impact to the head.

A host of symptoms can develop as a result of concussion, or mTBI, including headaches, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, changes to vision, sensitivity to noise and light, ringing in the ears, and changes in memory and concentration. The combination of these symptoms is referred to as post-concussion syndrome. Anxiety and depression may develop as well, particularly in those who do not understand their symptoms and who struggle to navigate daily activities in the face of these symptoms.

For most, post-concussive symptoms remit within three months. However, for some, symptoms can persist for a year or more. It is unclear why some develop chronic symptoms and others do not. To date, research points to both physical effects on the brain and psychological factors as contributing to post-concussive syndrome. Also, research indicates that women are more susceptible than men, and that one is more susceptible with increasing age.

Consulting with a psychologist who is familiar with traumatic brain injury is valuable, particularly if you have developed symptoms of anxiety or depression in response to your injury. Psychological treatment for post-concussive syndrome involves education about mTBI and the recovery trajectory, behavioral interventions for symptom management, and general support around the emotional impact that comes from navigating post-concussive symptoms.