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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Jan;79(1):90-103.

Depression following traumatic brain injury.

Author information

  • 1Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA.



Review the existing literature on the incidence, neurobiological and psychosocial correlates, and methods of assessment and treatment of depression following traumatic brain injury (TBI).


Computerized database searches of the English-language literature from Index Medicus, Psychological Abstracts, Excerpta Medica, and Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature.


Given the relatively small number of publications specifically related to TBI and depression, all studies appearing in the peer-reviewed literature were included in the review. In addition, studies examining depression and other neurologic diseases (eg, stroke) were also reviewed as to the potential applicability of the theoretical model or methodology used.


Depression occurs with sufficient frequency to be considered a significant consequence after TBI. Depression can impede the achievement of optimal functional outcome, whether in the acute or chronic stages of recovery. It appears that a combination of neuroanatomic, neurochemical, and psychosocial factors is responsible for the onset and maintenance of depression. Its treatment is typically psychopharmacologic, with best results obtained from nontricyclic antidepressants. These results have not been confirmed in double-blind clinical trials, however. Future research should use comprehensive, integrative models of depression that include demographic, biologic, and psychosocial factors; enhanced functional neuroimaging techniques; controlled studies of psychopharmacologic and other interventions; and prospective designs with long-term follow-up.

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