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A concussion is an injury to the brain that disrupts how the brain normally works. Most young people recover completely from a concussion within a matter of days to weeks, although every one's recovery may be different. You should be aware of symptoms that commonly occur after a concussion and consult with an appropriate healthcare provider following any head injury.
After a concussion, children and adolescents may experience a variety of physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms. Although physical symptoms, like headaches or dizziness, and cognitive symptoms, like being more forgetful or easily distracted, are more commonly discussed, emotional symptoms should be monitored as well. Emotional adjustment issues can interfere with recovery.
After a concussion (and many other injuries), children and adolescents can experience increased stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety. These difficulties can occur for a variety of reasons but most are indirectly related to the injury.
For example, stress could relate to being removed from sports for medical reasons or falling behind at school. These emotional symptoms typically resolve as usual daily activities are resumed and the youth returns to pre-injury functioning.
There are a few steps you can take to reduce the emotional effects of a concussion. Following a concussion, it's important to:
It's common that a child or teen experiences mild emotional changes within the first days to weeks following a concussion, such as feeling irritable or having low frustration tolerance. If emotional or behavioral symptoms are severe, like depressed mood or significant anxiety, or persist longer than the first few weeks, our experts recommend prompt behavioral health intervention or counseling with a qualified professional familiar with concussion. At Children's Colorado, we have psychologists in our Concussion Program team to help address and evaluate these concerns.
It is important to monitor for these symptoms in children and adolescents who have sustained a concussion:
The cause of suicide is complex. Increased risk is associated with multiple factors such as severe depression, hopelessness, impulsivity and drug misuse. No good scientific evidence supports a direct relationship between a history of concussion and suicide. In fact, a scientific study found that ex-NFL players were 60% less likely to commit suicide than the general public.
Want to learn more about how we diagnose and treat concussions? Call our Concussion Program at 720-777-2806.