White Matter Abnormalities Link Depression, Concussion

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Patients with depression have similar white matter abnormalities as patients who experience concussion and have depression, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh set out to determine if trauma to the brain could be an underlying cause of depression or anxiety and not just cognitive conditions like dementia. Researchers observed damage to regions in the reward circuit of the brain in patients with both depression and concussion, a symptom that is also often observed in people with non-traumatic major depressive disorder. In addition, researchers found that the greater the damage to the reward circuit, the longer the recovery time from concussion.

The restrospective study examined 74 patients with concussion that underwent diffusion tensor imaging between 2006 and 2014. The findings suggest that non-traumatic and traumatic depression may have a common pathophysiology, however researchers acknowledged that not all post-concussion symptoms result in white matter abnormalities since irritability was not included in the study. The researchers also acknowledged that it was difficult to determine if pre-existing brain abnormalities made certain patients with concussion more susceptible to neuropsychiatric symptoms.

If further studies of larger groups of patients can confirm a link between concussion and non-traumatic depression, the findings could help guide the development of potential treatments strategies for both diseases. 

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White Matter Abnormalities Link Depression, Concussion

White matter brain abnormalities in some patients with depression disorders closely resemble abnormalities found in patients who have experienced a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), more commonly known as concussion, according to new research presented by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

The researchers, who also studied anxiety in concussion patients who underwent imaging, believe determining these white-matter injuries also could help guide treatment in people who suffer such symptoms, whether they are due to trauma or not.

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