Mental Health Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury

Biol Psychiatry. 2022 Mar 1;91(5):413-420. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.09.024. Epub 2021 Oct 2.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with a host of psychiatric and neurobehavioral problems. As mortality rates have declined for severe TBI, attention has turned to the cognitive, affective, and behavioral sequelae of injuries across the severity spectrum, which are often more disabling than residual physical effects. Moderate and severe TBI can cause personality changes including impulsivity, severe irritability, affective instability, and apathy. Mild TBI, once considered a largely benign phenomenon, is now known to be associated with a range of affective symptoms, with suicidality, and with worsening or new onset of several psychiatric disorders including posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. Repetitive head impacts, often in athletic contexts, are now believed to be associated with a number of emotional and behavioral sequelae. The nature and etiology of mental health manifestations of TBI (including a combination of brain dysfunction and psychological trauma and interrelationships between cognitive, affective, and physical symptoms) are complex and have been a focus of recent epidemiological and mechanistic studies. This paper will review the epidemiology of psychiatric and neurobehavioral problems after TBI in military, civilian, and athletic contexts.

Keywords: Cognition; Generalized anxiety disorder; Major depressive disorder; Posttraumatic stress disorder; Suicidality; Traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Concussion* / complications
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / complications
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / complications
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / epidemiology