The risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increases among soldiers who had suffered a concussion or other trauma in the brain, according to a war study of troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dewleen Baker, a psychiatrist at UCSD and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and a team of researchers studied more than 1,600 Marine and Navy service members from San Diego's Camp Pendleton. The service members were assessed before deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan and then again three months after returning.
‘Troops are far more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder if they have suffered a concussion. This maybe due to a change in the brain's fear circuits.’
"At one point we got this battalion that went to Helmand Province in Afghanistan and 50 percent of them were complaining of blast exposures and symptoms. The study found that troops who experienced a traumatic brain injury were twice as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder," said Baker.
The study showed that Marines who had brain injuries while deployed were twice likely to develop PTSD than those who did not have the injuries.
Brain trauma before deployment was not as strongly associated with the development of PTSD after deployment.
Another research showed that brain injuries had shown that they could change the way the brain responds to a frightening event by disrupting the parts of the brain that usually blunt those responses. Thousands of soldiers have developed PTSD after concussion from a bomb blast.
The electrical activity in the brain showed the amygdala often had trouble regulating emotions when fear was present after a concussion or other brain injury, even for some study subjects who never served in the military.
The study is published in the Journal of American Medical Association.