Depressive symptoms and concussions in aging retired NFL players

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2013 Aug;28(5):418-24. doi: 10.1093/arclin/act028. Epub 2013 May 3.


We examined the relationship between a remote history of concussions with current symptoms of depression in retired professional athletes. Thirty retired National Football League (NFL) athletes with a history of concussion and 29 age- and IQ-matched controls without a history of concussion were recruited. We found a significant correlation between the number of lifetime concussions and depressive symptom severity using the Beck Depression Inventory II. Upon investigating a three-factor model of depressive symptoms (affective, cognitive, and somatic; Buckley et al., 2001) from the BDI-II, the cognitive factor was the only factor that was significantly related to concussions. In general, NFL players endorsed more symptoms of depression on all three Buckley factors compared with matched controls. Findings suggest that the number of self-reported concussions may be related to later depressive symptomology (particularly cognitive symptoms of depression).

Keywords: Aging; Cognition; Concussion; Depression; Football; NFL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Brain Concussion / complications*
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology*
  • Brain Concussion / psychology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Football / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests