"What this study suggests is that teens who have had a concussion should be screened for depression," lead study author Sara Chrisman, MD, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital, said.
Concussion, considered a mild traumatic brain injury, can also have serious psychological effects.
Most prior research on these psychological effects has focused on adults.
However, many teens experience concussions through sports injuries or accidents, and less is known about long-term complications in adolescents.
The study used data from the 2007-2008 National Survey of Children's Health and included health information from over 36,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17. 2.7 percent of the sample had had a concussion and 3.4 percent had a current depression diagnosis.
Teens who were 15 years or older, lived in poverty or who had a parent with mental health problems were more likely to be depressed than other teens, Chrisman said.
But he added that what was surprising was, when they took those factors into consideration, it didn't take away from the association between depression and a history of concussion.
Chrisman also cautioned that it's not known what exactly might account for higher rates of depression in teens with a history of concussion. It could be the brain injury itself, diagnostic bias due to repeated medical visits for concussion, doctors mistaking symptoms of a concussion for depression, or from the social isolation that they may experience while recovering.
The study is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.