Home Health Repetitive headaches associated with later-life depression symptoms

Repetitive headaches associated with later-life depression symptoms


In the largest study of its kind, an association has been discovered in living clients exposed to repetitive head impacts and problems with cognitive performance and anxiety years or decades later on.

Let’s Take a Closer Look

Researchers have long thought that a single traumatic brain injury (TBI) previously in life may contribute to issues with memory, thinking and depression later on in life. In most research studies, however, research failed to take a look at the possible function of having a history of exposure to repeated head impacts, consisting of those leading to “subconcussive” injuries, in these later-life problems. In the largest study of its kind, an association has been found in living patients exposed to recurring head effects and problems with cognitive performance and depression years or decades later on.

Scientists from the Boston University (BU) Alzheimer’s Disease and Chronic Distressing Encephalopathy (CTE) Centers, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and San Francisco VA Health care System collaborated to analyze the records of 13,323 people age 40 and older (typical age 62) who take part in the internet-based Brain Health Registry. Of those, 725 or 5 percent of individuals reported direct exposure to previous recurring head effects through contact sports, abuse or military service. In addition to recurring head impact history, the scientists also analyzed the impacts of having a TBI with and without loss of consciousness.

Along with self-report questionnaires of recurring head impact and TBI history, participants finished steps of depressive signs and digital cognitive tests. The findings, released in the journal Neurology, expose that participants with a history of both repetitive head effects and TBI reported greater anxiety symptoms than those who did not have such history. In addition, when repetitive head effects and TBI were examined individually, a history of repeated head effects had the strongest effect on later-life symptoms of depression. The findings were independent of age, sex, racial identity and education level.

“The findings underscore that repetitive hits to the head, such as those from contact sport participation or physical abuse, might be associated with later-life symptoms of depression. It should be made clear that this association is likely to be dependent on the dose or duration of repetitive head impacts and this information was not available for this study,” said Michael Alosco, PhD, associate professor of neurology at BU School of Medicine (BUSM) and co-director of the BU Alzheimer’s Disease Center Clinical Core.

There was a dose-response-like pattern in between head trauma and depression symptoms. Particularly, individuals with no history of either TBI or repetitive head impacts had the least signs. While anxiety signs increased when a history of TBI alone was present, anxiety symptoms were highest for the groups who had a history of both repeated head impacts and TBI. Undoubtedly, the group that had a history of repetitive head impacts and TBI with loss of awareness reported the most depressive signs.

A comparable cumulative impact was seen among those exposed to repetitive head effects and TBI on tests of memory, discovering, processing speed, and reaction time. Individuals with a history of repetitive head impacts or TBI had even worse efficiency on some of the tests compared to those without any head trauma history, and those with both a history of repeated head effects and TBI with loss of consciousness had worse performance on almost all of these computerized cognitive tests.

“These findings add to the growing knowledge about the long-term neurological consequences of brain trauma,” said Robert Stern, PhD, professor of neurology, neurosurgery and anatomy & neurobiology at BUSM and director of clinical research at the BU CTE Center. “It should be noted that not all people with a history of repetitive hits to the head will develop later-life problems with cognitive functioning and depression. However, results from this study provide further evidence that exposure to repetitive head impacts, such as through the routine play of tackle football, plays an important role in the development in these later-life cognitive and emotional problems,” added Stern, one of the senior authors of the study.

A significant restriction of the research study is that the scientists did not have access to measurements or quotes of the degree of repetitive effect exposure nor TBI frequency. In October, BU scientists reported a dose-response relationship between the number of years of exposure to deal with football (regardless of the variety of concussions) and the presence and intensity of the degenerative brain illness chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In a sample of 266 deceased football players, each year of direct exposure to take on football was connected with 30 percent increased chances of having CTE and 17 percent increased odds of having severe CTE. It is unknown if any topics in this research study have CTE or any other neurodegenerative illness.

The research group plans to extend their work through continued collaboration between BU and UCSF detectives utilizing data from the Brain Health Computer System Registry. “We are excited to partner with BU on this important study that used the Brain Health Registry to increase our understanding on the long-term effects of repetitive head impacts and TBI,” said Michael Weiner, MD, PI of the Brain Health Registry and professor-in-residence in radiology and biomedical imaging, medicine, psychiatry and neurology at UCSF. “The Brain Health Registry is a novel and exciting resource for both the scientific community and the general public. It allows for large-scale recruitment, screening and study of dementia, and more than 60,000 individuals across the world are enrolled. It offers a way for the general public to track their thinking, memory, mood, and behavior over time, and also serves as a readiness registry for future research and clinical trials of prevention and treatment.”

Drew Simms
Drew has been a retail jockey, founded a professional photography business and a news blog covering the Apple ecosystem. He has served as News Editor and Managing Editor at The Next Web and is now Editor-In-Chief at Drew Reports News. He has made a name for himself in the tech media world as a writer and editor, relentlessly covering Apple and Twitter, in addition to a broad range of startups in the fields of robotics, computer vision, AI, fashion, VR, AR and more. Owns shares in ETFs. Contact Drew at drew@drewreportsnews.com

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