How Long Can a Concussion Go Undetected?


The country is facing an epidemic of brain injuries, and it’s fueling the mental health crisis. An estimated 1.7 million people experience a concussion each year, and millions more go undiagnosed. These mild head injuries, which can lead to a host of mental health problems, may remain hidden for decades, In some cases, they may go undetected for a lifetime.

This means many people may have no idea that a traumatic brain injury (TBI) could be behind their depression, anxiety, memory loss, or other behavioral disorders. This can have a negative impact on every aspect of your life. In some instances, it might even change history.

Mild head injuries, which can lead to a host of mental health problems, may remain hidden for decades or a lifetime. Click To Tweet


Consider an example nearly 500 years old that Yale neurologists have put to diagnostic scrutiny. Centuries after his erratic rule ended in 1597, scientists have been revisiting the medical history of the English King Henry VIII.

This monarch wed 6 times and infamously beheaded 2 of his wives. Along the way, he caused a schism in Christianity that created the Church of England.

During his athletic 30s, the king sustained several head injuries, a pair of which occurred in jousting matches. In the first, an opponent’s lance pierced the visor of his helmet. In the second, he was unconscious for a couple of hours after a horse fell on him.

The researchers suggest that the impact of those blows was similar to the TBIs suffered by today’s football players.

Before his injuries, the young king was described as a “vigorous, generous, and intelligent king,” according to the Yale neurologists’ study published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. After the head injuries, the researchers write that he became “cruel, petty, and tyrannical.”

The king began displaying memory loss, explosive bursts of anger, impulsivity, and insomnia. Some historical research suggests he struggled with sexual dysfunction, which might have contributed to his marital troubles.

A 2020 study on professional football players in JAMA Neurology found that the more concussion symptoms experienced the higher the chances of erectile dysfunction.

Could hidden concussions have been behind some of the most monumental shifts in modern European history? Is a past concussion or are multiple head injuries impacting your life?


It’s common for head injuries to go undetected. Based on the brain SPECT imaging work at Amen Clinics, about 40% of patients have experienced a significant brain injury.

Surprisingly, many of these individuals don’t recall having sustained a head injury. In some cases, they may remember a bump or blow to the head, but they think it was too minor to mention.

In other instances, they may have experienced repetitive sub-concussive blows to the head. These are impacts, such as repeatedly heading a soccer ball, that don’t cause immediate symptoms. However, the cumulative effects may cause long-term problems over time. When consequences linger for years, it’s called post-concussion syndrome.

Unfortunately, many of these individuals never connect the dots from a minor injury that happened years earlier to the mental health issues they are currently facing.


Head injuries can cause a wide variety of emotional, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms. Some signs of a concussion include:

  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Anxiousness
  • Difficulty concentration
  • Mood issues
  • Temper problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts

These symptoms may develop soon after a mild traumatic brain injury, or they may not appear until months or years later. This is another reason why it’s so difficult for people to understand that their symptoms are related to a past concussion.

Left untreated, mild concussions increase the risk for mental health problems, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • Depression
  • Addictions
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Dementia

These issues can ruin a person’s life as well as the lives of their loved ones.


Common causes of head trauma include falls, motor vehicle accidents, military combat, violence, and sports injuries.


  • Falling off a ladder or roof
  • Falling out of a bunk bed or out of a tree
  • Falling backward and striking your head
  • Falling on your head while doing gymnastics or cheerleading

Motor Vehicle Accidents

  • Hitting your head on the steering wheel, dashboard, or window
  • Getting whiplash

Military Combat

  • Explosive blasts
  • Gunshot wounds


  • Physical assaults involving the head.

Sports Injuries

  • Getting hit in the head by a baseball, bat, or hockey stick
  • Repeatedly getting punched or hit in the face or head in boxing or martial arts
  • Repeatedly heading soccer balls
  • Repeatedly getting tackled or hit in the head in contact sports

All of these types of head injuries can cause damage to the brain. If you have experienced any of these and you’re struggling with memory loss or mental health issues that aren’t responding to standard treatment, it’s a good idea to investigate past head injuries as a potential cause.


If you suspect a head injury, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis. Functional brain imaging, such as SPECT, can be beneficial in revealing areas of the brain that have been damaged.

Knowing which parts of the brain aren’t functioning optimally can be helpful in creating a targeted treatment program. To heal from brain injuries, it’s important to take an integrative approach that includes lifestyle changes and more.

Concussion rescue strategies that can be helpful include:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Stop drinking sodas.
  • Eliminate alcohol.
  • Reduce sugar consumption.
  • Increase water intake.
  • Eat organic, nutrient-dense foods.
  • Take omega-3 fatty acids to support overall brain health.
  • Take herbs and supplements such as ginkgo biloba to support blood flow.
  • Increase exercise to boost blood flow to the brain.
  • Try hyperbaric oxygen chamber (HBOT) treatments.
  • Consider neurofeedback therapy.
  • Test and optimize hormone levels—they are often low in people who have sustained concussions.

With the right treatment plan, it’s possible to heal your brain, minimize symptoms, and start feeling like yourself again.

Concussions and the mental health issues associated with them can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. great advice!

    Comment by Doug Morris — September 10, 2023 @ 9:59 AM

  2. Is verry interesting, this approach, my son was hit on the head by a car in the US, and a year after that he is a totally changed guy, with many mental problems, he went to a long-term psychiatric hospital 4 times and still it's not good but he doesn't want to do a CT scan

    Comment by Liliana — September 11, 2023 @ 3:18 AM

  3. This is a very interesting and vital article.
    What you say is absolutely spot on!
    In 2019 my husband had a bad reaction to an anesthetic is presented as brain fog. I took him to a local top neurologist here in Cape Town South Africa. I was told he had Lewy Body Disease and to get his affairs in order. This triggered a lot of research and I found the Amen Clinc website. I listened to almost every pod cast, read a phenomenal amount of relevant articles published by Dr Amen and changed our diet accordingly.
    There was a definite improvement in my husbands condition. The neurologist showed absolutely no interest in what I had to say or getting a SPECT type of investigation going.
    I tried to get hyperbaric O2 treatment via our local doctor. He sent me to a Hematologist. During this whole process my husband gave up the will to live.
    You are very lucky in the USA to have this facility. Look after your brain.
    Thank you Dr Amen and Tana for your good work.
    regards Lynne

    Comment by Lynette Emery — September 11, 2023 @ 3:30 AM

  4. Though I cannot recall more than one instance when I may have suffered a concussion , now I’m wondering how much may have been caused following that vehicle accident when I was 21. I can, however, point to ADD symptoms prior to that car crash.

    Comment by Mark Swearingen — September 11, 2023 @ 7:35 AM

  5. Sure wish you had a clinic in the Detroit or Cleveland area.

    Comment by Sharon — September 11, 2023 @ 8:46 AM

  6. My son had a relatively minor vehicle auto accident several years ago…with a head injury, that was never treated. The next day he relapsed, after 15 years of being clean & sober. Initially I thought it was whiplash, until I started reading about TBI. It's been a little over 10 years ago, and he still can't get sober. He has lost everything, including his kids (who were his heart). He has no insurance, so he can't get a "brain SPECT" imaging done. It is very sad. I know of many cases of serious brain injuries in childhood/ young adults that end up in jail repeatedly and don't understand why they keep making the same decisions that cause the same results (legally). Is there any hope???

    Comment by sue griffin — September 11, 2023 @ 11:53 AM

  7. Hi, I am reaching out to someone. I was out for the evening at dinner at a church on May 12th, no drinking involved, or drugs. when we were leaving, we were outside with others, I noticed that automatic lights were flickering, the only thing that i remember one was working. I woke up in the hospital. doctors, nurses my husband. I was told I fell, split the back of my head wide opened over 20 stitches. I have a severe concussion. This has been very hard on me. I can't go back to work, untill I am healed. I am having migraines every day, dizziness, stumble with my speech. unbalanced, I use a cane to be able to get around. sensitive to lights, and hearing. I have whiplash. this has caused problems with my vision. I have special glasses, and vision therapy. Trying to figure out how long this will take to heal. I have been using a diet for healing the brain. Is there anything else I can do? or a better diet?

    Comment by holly m heppner — September 26, 2023 @ 2:08 PM

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