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Symptom Areas


Updated Jul 31, 2019

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Mood Changes are Common

Mood changes are common after concussion, including depressed mood, low interest, emotional ups and downs, anxiety, and irritability. In this section we are going to focus on depressed mood and related symptoms.

Concussion can cause mood changes directly, especially early on. However, depression and other mood changes can also be caused, worsened, or maintained by the life disruption and stress that sometimes follows concussion.

Symptoms area emotion bubbles

When Mood Changes are a Problem

Most people experience some mood changes occasionally. However, if your mood changes persist and negatively impact your daily life, you might have depression or another mental health condition .

The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) highlights changes in mood as a symptom that should be identified and treated early. Depression can mimic or worsen concussion symptoms, so it’s important to address it.

Depression when mood changes are a problem

Common Symptoms of Depression

Depression and other mood disorders look different in different people. Usually, the person will have some combination of symptoms lasting at least two weeks, including the following:

  • Low or flat mood most of the time
  • Reduced interest or enjoyment in usual activities
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Excessive restlessness or slowed movements
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Notice how much overlap there is between depression symptoms and concussion symptoms? If you are having some of these symptoms more days than not, talk to your family doctor.

Treating Depression

The good news is that there are many effective treatments for depression. You and your family doctor can decide on one that’s right for you. Treatments could include self-management strategies, group therapy, individual therapy, or medications. One evidence-based approach to treating depression recommended by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which was introduced in the article Challenging Your Thoughts.

Treating depression flower

Suicide Prevention

If you are feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, supports are available. You are not alone, and you don’t need to feel ashamed. Tell someone you trust if you are feeling suicidal. Your health providers can also help you connect with supports. Crisis Services Canada [webpage] offers free support by phone or text.

If you are concerned for your own safety, call 9-1-1.

Depression Suicide Prevention

Taking Action!

If you are having symptoms of depression and you want to take action, here are some ideas:

  1. Make an appointment with your family doctor to discuss treatment options, such as therapy or medication.
  2. Create opportunities for pleasant experience this week. Make an action plan to do something you find fun.

There are some excellent free online resources. Check one out!

  • Kelty's Key [webpage]
  • Antidepressant Skills Workbook [webpage]
  • Positive Coping with Health Conditions - A Self-Care Workbook [pdf]
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