Correlation Between Concussion History and Post-concussion Depressive Symptoms in Collegiate Athletes

Open Access
Brynien, Daniel Harry
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Peter Andrew Arnett, Thesis Supervisor
  • William Ray, Honors Advisor
  • concussion
  • depression
Athletes are frequently subjected to mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), also known as a concussion. The cognitive and emotional symptoms of these concussions can linger for months or even years after the injury. These effects may include exacerbation of symptoms of subsequent head injuries. The purpose of this study was to examine the depressive symptoms seen in athletes after multiple concussions as compared with athletes after sustaining their first concussion. Data were collected from the Penn State Sports Concussion Neuropsychology Program databases and analyzed using SPSS Statistics. The 312 athletes included in the study were divided into three groups based on concussion history (1: baseline; 2: post-concussion [0 previous mTBI]; 3: post-concussion [1+ previous mTBI]), and measures of depressive symptoms were compared between groups. Groups 2 and 3 both showed significantly higher depression scores (Beck Depression Inventory – Fast Screen: BDI-FS) than Group 1, but the difference between 2 and 3 was not statistically significant. Group 3 also showed a significantly lower examiner-observed affect rating than Group 1. All comparisons for Affective Word List bias and Post-Concussion Symptom Scale Affective scores were not found to be significant. Based on these results, only the affect rating showed a significant increase in depressive symptoms when comparing an athlete’s first concussion to a subsequent concussion. However, relative to athletes with no prior concussions who were only examined at baseline, depression symptom reports were increased in athletes who had experienced a concussion regardless of concussion history. These findings suggest the possibility that experiencing a concussion increases the likelihood of depression symptoms in collegiate athletes.