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Mental Health Issues More Common in Women after a Brain Injury

Home » Mental Health Issues More Common in Women after a Brain Injury
August 01, 2019
Edward Smith

Mental Health Issues More Common in Women after a Brain Injury

Mental health issues may be more common in women than in men according to a recent study that was published. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to a wide variety of complications ranging from motor difficulties to sensory problems and even mental health disorders. Mental health disorders can manifest as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. These problems can impact someone’s relationships with their family members, friends, and coworkers. Fortunately, there are treatment options available for mental health issues that can lead to an improved quality of life. That is the goal of a study that was recently published and presented at a medical conference in Orlando, FL.

Different Impacts on the Body’s Stress Axis

According to the researchers, traumatic brain injuries can impact the stress axes of men and women differently. These stress axes could be responsible for the development of mental health problems. Based on the information from the study, close to 1.5 million people are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury on an annual basis. Although traumatic brain injuries are more common in males, mental health disorders are more common in females. The researchers believe that difference has to do with the body’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA).

The HPA axis plays a major role in how the body responds to stress. This axis produces hormones that impact how the brain interprets and responds to both fear and anxiety. If this axis is disturbed, the body may respond to fear and anxiety differently. This may explain the development of emotional disorders following a head injury. The researchers put this hypothesis to the test in a study.

The Study: Blast Injuries in Mice

The researchers subjected male and female mice to simulated blast injuries in an experiment. The goal of this blast was to simulate a traumatic brain injury. Then, the researchers compared these mice to mice that did not sustain a TBI. After this, the researchers measured the levels of corticosterone in the mice, which is a hormone released by the HPA axis.

The researchers found that mice who had suffered a TBI showed altered levels of corticosterone than those who had not been injured. Furthermore, female mice appeared to have a higher degree of corticosterone changes than male mice. This shows that corticosterone plays a role in how the body responds to traumatic brain injuries. It also shows that females may be at a greater risk of HPA axis dysregulation than their male counterparts.

Future Directions: Mental Health Interventions Moving Forward

This study is important because it gives medical professionals a new understanding of how TBIs might impact men and women in different ways. If researchers are able to figure out why mental health issues are more common in women than in men following a severe head injury, it may lead to the development of new treatment options. With improved treatments of mental health issues following a TBI, individuals can have an improved quality of life.

It is important to note that these results came from experiments involving mice. The results will need to remain consistent on a human population before new treatments can be developed. On the other hand, this study does give researchers and medical professionals an improved understanding of how emotional disorders might develop following a head injury. This study should be a jumping-off point for future studies involving depression, anxiety, and traumatic brain injuries.

Stockton Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton Brain Injury Lawyer. Mental health issues can arise following a traumatic brain injury and deserve appropriate medical care. If someone you know has developed complications following a serious brain injury, please contact me at (800) 404-5400 or (209) 227-1931 for free, friendly legal advice.

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