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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2011;13(3):251-62.

Post-traumatic stress disorder vs traumatic brain injury.

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School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) often coexist because brain injuries are often sustained in traumatic experiences. This review outlines the significant overlap between PTSD and TBI by commencing with a critical outline of the overlapping symptoms and problems of differential diagnosis. The impact of TBI on PTSD is then described, with increasing evidence suggesting that mild TBI can increase risk for PTSD. Several explanations are offered for this enhanced risk. Recent evidence suggests that impairment secondary to mild TBI is largely attributable to stress reactions after TBI, which challenges the long-held belief that postconcussive symptoms are a function of neurological insult This recent evidence is pointing to new directions for treatment of postconcussive symptoms that acknowledge that treating stress factors following TBI may be the optimal means to manage the effects of many TBIs.


post-traumatic stress disorder; postconcussive syndrome; trauma; traumatic brain injury

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