5 Symptoms That You Have a Concussion

5 Symptoms That You Have A Concussion

Have you ever banged your head and seen stars for a fleeting moment or blacked out? Have you ever fallen off your bike, had a car accident, taken a helmet-to-helmet tackle in a football game, or experienced an explosion in military combat? If so, you may have had a concussion, even if you never got diagnosed with one. Unfortunately, many mild concussions go undiagnosed. But any kind of head injury—even one that doesn’t make you lose consciousness—can lead to lasting problems that ruin lives.

Many people are aware of concussion symptoms—such as headache, confusion, and passing out—that can occur immediately. But very few people realize that many things we consider to be signs of a psychiatric condition are actually concussion symptoms. Look what happened to Will.

Will: Concussions Changed His Mental Health

At age 16, Will was such a good soccer player, it looked like he was on a path to becoming a professional. But then he got kicked in the head during a match. It wasn’t the first time. In fact, it was the fourth concussion he had sustained from playing the sport. The other three times, he had eventually gone back to playing and everything seemed normal. But this time was different. He became irritable, moody, and easily distracted, and he started making poor decisions. It got so bad, he had to take a year off from school.

What Will’s Brain Scan Revealed

Will underwent brain imaging technology called SPECT that showed significant damage to his prefrontal cortex, which is located in the front of the brain, as well as damage to his occipital lobes, which are in the back of the brain. Seeing his brain scan made Will rethink his future, and he made the decision to give up the game he loved so much. “I love soccer, but I know I’ll love my future wife and children more. I have to do a better job of protecting my brain,” he said. Using a concussion treatment protocol, Will improved over time and his mood, irritability, and decision-making dramatically improved.

Will’s Concussion Brain Scan: The holes indicate damage to the front and back of his brain.

Healthy Brain Scan: Full, even, symmetrical activity.

Here are 5 concussion symptoms that are often misdiagnosed as simple mental health symptoms:

1. Anxiety:

Many people who have a concussion develop increased anxious feelings and distressing thoughts—sometimes months or years after the incident. Research shows that people who have had a head injury are more likely to develop anxiety and panic disorders.

2. Depression:

In the first and largest brain imaging study on active and retired NFL players, high levels of brain damage were evident. In addition, depression was very common in the NFL players in this study—four times higher than the national average.

3. Problems with focus and organization:

After a concussion, people often struggle with attention and have trouble with organization. This can affect your performance at work or school, and it can have negative consequences in your personal relationships. Research reveals that head injuries increase the risk of ADD/ADHD.

4. Memory problems:

Having trouble remembering things is very common in people who have had a head injury, such as a concussion. The risk for memory issues is even more likely in those who have suffered multiple concussions.

5. Anger and irritability:

Some people, like Will, tend to become more aggressive or have angry outbursts in the months and years following a head injury. People often don’t realize this is connected to a concussion they suffered in the past.

Unfortunately, many doctors treat these symptoms as simple psychiatric disorders. They don’t ask about previous head injuries or concussions and don’t actually look at the brain with imaging, so they don’t understand the root cause of these symptoms. And traditional psychiatric treatment alone is not going to heal the brain. Treating the underlying biological problem is key to the healing process.

At Amen Clinics about 40% of our patients, including Will, have experienced head injuries. But many of them don’t remember suffering a concussion until they see the damage in their brain scan. Seeing the underlying biology of the brain allows us to create an individualized treatment plan that helps heal the brain to address the root cause of symptoms.

If you think a concussion may be contributing to your symptoms, don’t wait to seek professional help. Schedule a visit today or call 888-288-9834.


  1. My daughter fell and hit her head 2 times as a small child. She required sutures. She later had trouble at school and home,and eventually diagnosed with ADD and a defiant disorder. She got into drugs and running away. In and out of jail. At 41 is still having addiction problems and is in jail now. My question is, if she had a brain injury(s), how can the brain be healed? The article stated the use of concussion protocol can help. How? Thank you, Janice

    Comment by Janice HAAGE — May 3, 2019 @ 6:12 AM

  2. I’ve had several falls all on the head I landed, I have all of these symptoms, what should I do at this point

    Comment by Cindy Buch — May 3, 2019 @ 10:44 AM

  3. If it wasn’t so expensive!

    Comment by Joel — May 3, 2019 @ 6:27 PM

  4. My first diagnosed concussion was in the Fall of 2017 when I got sideswiped by a car while turning into the entrance of our new condo. They did a follow up MRI and it did not look like complications of concussion, but led to a new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. My brain was shrinking and covered with liquid. My symptoms are # 3 & 5 on your list and the current conclusions among my family doctor, the hospital gerontologist and neurologist is that this was a precondition to the concussion

    Comment by Norman McLeod — May 4, 2019 @ 3:23 AM


    Comment by Valerie palmer — May 4, 2019 @ 3:47 AM

  6. Very interesting article. I agree with the reader who asked about the use of concussion protocol. The article did not address treatment or what the “protocol” is. I would appreciate more information regarding that.

    Comment by Mary Kay — May 4, 2019 @ 5:24 AM

  7. I recall as a child falling and hitting my head on ice. Another time I was playing soccer and I got hit with a ball straight on my face. I recall my first depression signs were when I was in 7th grade. It’s been on and off and I felt like I had a rough child hood so I never thought of any injuries. At age 42 I have problems sleeping, get very agitated with noise and have anxiety. Could two small falls cause that?

    Comment by Rosanna Stritzel — May 4, 2019 @ 6:26 AM

  8. Dr. Amen, My daughter felt off a high bed to a tile floor around 1 year old or less. She did not cry I picked her up and she seemed fine. At 16 she was diagnosed with schizoaffective, she now tells me she used to feel strange when she was a girl, her mind. She is now 43. I am really worried if the fall from the bed could have done something in her brain. Many years have gone by. She was never been tested to look at her brain.
    Please let me know if your clinic is able to diagnose if there is a problem with her brain. She suffers insomnia although she takes psychiatric and sleep meds, lack of sleep makes her anxious and deppressed. How much would it be to have her checked, tested and evaluated? I would appreciate hearing from you. Thank you very much.

    Comment by Isabel Molina — May 4, 2019 @ 6:29 PM

  9. In 2012, my husband had bacterial meningitis that he barely survived. Over a 6-day period on I-V antibiotics in a local hospital, he went downhill until he was unconscious. The bacterium was never identified. (However, he’d had a 5-hour dental appointment 5 days before in a practice where the dentist’s pet parrot is housed in a cage in the patient waiting room.) Once my husband was unconscious, the local hospital doctor phoned a neurosurgeon at a teaching hospital and my husband was transferred there by ambulance. Over the next 4 weeks, they drilled 4 holes into his skull to relieve the pressure from the unrelenting infection that plugged his brain’s ventricles, blocking the drainage of cerebral spinal fluid. Since the I-V antibiotics weren’t working, they finally resorted to putting antibiotics directly into his skull. This finally worked and the infection cleared up. However, the amount of pressure on his brain over an extended period of time, in my humble opinion, is no different than the pressure from a concussion caused by a blow to the head. His brain was definitely negatively affected. I gather this is called an Acquired Brain Injury. Eight years later, to add insult to injury, during surgery for a perforated bowel, he had a stroke, causing more damage to his brain — most obviously in the loss of his left peripheral vision and his internal “GPS”. Subsequent investigations demonstrated that he had a congenital Atrial Septal Defect (hole in his heart) which likely led to the stroke. The ASD has now been patched. He’s been through physio and occupational therapy, but it appears the damage is permanent. He’s also had serious seizures, 8 months and 12 months after the stroke. We’re in Canada and he is unable to work at present in the job at which he excelled. He’s had several MRIs. Can the Amen Clinic brain scans provide more data than an MRI? Can any kind of treatment plan help his injured brain? I’d love to know.

    Comment by Sylvia Leane — May 4, 2019 @ 9:43 PM

  10. My Son Was hit by a soccer ball on the front upper of right the head 6 years ago, he fainted and had inflammation he had. A treatment, but has all this symptoms what would you recomend me to do?

    Comment by Júlia Romo — May 5, 2019 @ 10:40 AM

  11. Hello Julia, thank you for reaching out and sharing about your son. Treating traumatic brain injuries is a large part of what we do with SPECT. By obtaining a SPECT scan, we’ll be able to see where any lasting damage from your son’s injury exists in his brain and develop treatment options for him based on his specific needs. Some of the treatments we offer include hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, and brain health supplements. We would be happy to reach out via email to discuss further. For more information, visit here: https://amenclinics.com/conditions/brain-injury/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 6, 2019 @ 7:59 AM

  12. Hello Rosanna, thank you for reaching out. Diagnosing and treating traumatic brain injuries (head trauma, concussions, etc.) are a large part of what we do at Amen Clinics. We certainly see the effects of a brain injury early in life start to affect the patient later in their life as symptoms develop. Here are some links to case studies that we have featured on our website:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 6, 2019 @ 11:07 AM

  13. Hello Cindy, the best course is to see what areas of your brain may be affected by the head traumas you’ve experienced. For some examples of what we’ve seen related to traumatic brain injuries, view these case studies:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 6, 2019 @ 11:16 AM

  14. Hello Sylvia, thank you for reaching out and sharing with us. We’d like to contact you to explore this further. To answer your question, yes a SPECT scan provides additional data to what an MRI provides. MRI shows the physical anatomy or structure of the brain, and SPECT shows how areas of low blood flow (surface scan) and areas that increased/decreased activity (concentration scan). For more information, visit: https://amenclinics.com/the-science/why-spect/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 6, 2019 @ 10:54 AM

  15. Hello Isabel, traumatic brain injuries have shown to affect one’s brain health years later. Utilizing brain SPECT scans, we are able to see damage from a TBI or head injury and determine the exact needs of the patient, based on the areas of the brain affected. We’d like to reach out to you via email to discuss further. We do have case studies of TBI on our website, here: https://amenclinics.com/spect-gallery/concussions-traumatic-brain-injury/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 6, 2019 @ 10:56 AM

  16. Hello Janice, thank you for reaching out. Concussion protocols don’t cover enough of the treatment needed when an injury is sustained, which is how many TBIs go untreated or properly diagnosed. The first step at Amen Clinics is to use a Brain SPECT scan to see the exact areas in the brain that have been affected, and from there we can customize a treatment plan for the patient. Some of our methods include hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, and supplements/nutraceuticals.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 6, 2019 @ 11:22 AM

  17. All these messages are from people reaching out to you for help…yet, the only answer you have is to get a spec scan. Isn’t there any advice that you can give? Is there anything that we can all do NOW to help our loved ones? Vitamins, supplements? I agree that the scan itself is way too expensive, we will never have the money to be able to get one so there has to be a way that you can help us poor people…right?

    Comment by Lenna — May 7, 2019 @ 10:04 AM

  18. Hello Lenna, thank you for reaching out. Our SPECT scans are recommended because they ensure that we follow the right treatment for each individual’s needs based on their brain function. For a list of treatments that we offer, you can view all our alternative methods here: https://amenclinics.com/services/. For information on Dr. Amen’s brain directed supplements, visit: https://www.brainmdhealth.com/. Consultations are also available with our doctors by calling 888-288-9834 and scheduling with our Care Coordinators.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — May 7, 2019 @ 10:47 AM

  19. Hyperbaric oxygen chamber and supplements

    Comment by Lisa Handley — May 17, 2019 @ 6:35 PM

  20. Get to amen clinic! Trust me

    Comment by Lisa Handley — May 17, 2019 @ 6:39 PM

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  24. It never would have occurred to me that many people who have concussions develop increased anxious feelings. As far as I know, anxiety can be caused by a myriad of medical conditions. It seems like it would be a good idea to visit a doctor if you are worried that you might have a concussion. https://www.fyzical.com/physical-therapy-services/concussion-testing-and-treatment

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