In a paper published today in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Iowa reveal that the onset of depression may be prevented when patients take anti-depressants immediately following traumatic brain injuries, before depression has had a chance to develop. Depression may impact up to 50 percent of patients during the first year following a TBI. Not only is the prevalence of depression high, it also affects recovery.
During the study, 94 non-depressed patients with traumatic brain injuries were either put on anti-depressant sertraline or given placebos within four weeks of sustaining the injury. The researchers followed up the effects of the treatment for 24 weeks or until the patient developed a mood disorder. Jorge and colleagues found that while 20 percent of the patients in the placebo group showed mood disorders during the observation period, only 5 percent showed mood disorders in the sertraline group. Researchers also observed, compared with the placebo group, the patients in the sertraline group took longer to show mood disorders and presented with them less often.