Depression after traumatic brain injury may not be the same as depression from other causes: study

A new study suggests that depression after traumatic brain injury may not be the same as depression related to other causes, according to researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The study of 273 people found that brain circuits associated with depression were different between people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and those without TBI.

“Our findings help explain how the physical trauma to specific brain circuits can lead to development of depression,” said study leader Shan Siddiqi, of the Brigham’s Department of Psychiatry and Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics.

“If we’re right, it means that we should be treating depression after TBI like a distinct disease,” Siddiqi added. “Many clinicians have suspected that this is a clinically distinct disorder with a unique pattern of symptoms and unique treatment response, including poor response to conventional antidepressants — but until now, we didn’t have clear physiological evidence to prove this.”

The study included 273 adults with TBI, usually from sports injuries, military injuries, or car accidents. People in this group were compared to other groups who did not have a TBI or depression, people with depression without TBI, and people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Study participants went through a resting-state functional connectivity MRI, a brain scan that looks at how oxygen is moving in the brain. These scans gave information about oxygenation in up to 200,000 points in the brain at about 1,000 different points in time — leading to about 200 million data points in each person.

Based on this information, a machine learning algorithm was used to generate an individualized map of each person’s brain.

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