Thursday, May 16, 2013

Brain Injury Appears to Increase Risk for Suicidality

Up to 20 percent of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan have experienced traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), whether from explosions, motor vehicle crashes, or falls. Now a survey of 161 personnel referred to a military hospital in Iraq finds that the number of TBIs incurred is significantly associated with depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and TBI symptom severity, said Craig Bryan, Psy.D., of the National Center for Veterans Studies in Salt Lake City, and Tracy Clemans, Psy.D., of the VA VISN 19 Mental Illness Research Education Clinical Center in Denver, online May 15 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Another troubling finding of their study is that “An increased incidence of lifetime suicidal thoughts or behaviors was associated with the number of TBIs, as was suicidal ideation within the past year.” They also found a significant interaction between depression and cumulative TBIs. The researchers said this finding about the link to suicide is particularly noteworthy "because military personnel who have sustained multiple head injuries might be especially vulnerable to suicide risk when experiencing emotional distress.”

To read more about TBIs in military populations, see Psychiatric News here. To read about a group treatment for veterans with TBI, see Psychiatric Services in Advance here.

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