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Women more likely to suffer depression after a TBI

According to a study reported by HealthDay News, women are more likely than men to develop depression after suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI). An analysis that looked at research involving nearly 700,000 people found that the risk for depression among women after a TBI is nearly 50% higher than it is for men. It’s been well established that there is an association between TBI and depression, and depression is a known risk factor for poor recovery from a TBI. It is also known that suicide is a leading cause of TBI-related deaths, with the average suicide rate being more than six times higher in those who suffered a TBI. Researchers looking for the link between TBI and depression theorize it may involve the brain’s neurotransmitter glutamate. The thinking is that a TBI may cause excess glutamate, which can be toxic to cells and cause cell injury or death. An imbalance in glutamate may be responsible for an increased risk of depression. It’s unclear why there is a disproportionate effect on women. One researcher suggests fluctuations in ovarian hormones may be implicated. Other factors may be affective disorders such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, postpartum depression, and postmenopausal depression and anxiety. In older women, the most common cause of a TBI is falls. Experts say the occurrence of TBIs in women are often underestimated, with resulting depression going underappreciated. Therefore, they say, identifying older women who are at risk for depression following head injuries from falls is an important public health priority.

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