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:
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.
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.