Purpose of review
Behavioral and psychiatric disturbances are the more frequent consequences of traumatic brain injury and major determinants of the quality of life of patients. This review was designed to familiarize the reader with the more recent work published in this field.
We have now a more consistent view of the epidemiology of post-traumatic brain injury psychiatric disorders both in adult and pediatric populations. Mood disorders, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders are the more prevalent psychiatric diagnoses among traumatic brain injury patients. The phenomenological characteristics and clinical correlates of major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol use disorders, and post-traumatic brain injury attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have been studied in more detail. Newer structural, metabolic and functional neuroimaging techniques help to clarify the pathogenesis of these disorders. In turn, this knowledge may lead to the implementation of more efficient therapeutic interventions. Unfortunately, controlled treatment studies have been the exception in the field, and treatment decisions usually lack adequate empirical support.
Recent advances in the basic neuroscience of traumatic brain injury as well as in behavioral genetics, social science and neuroimaging techniques should contribute to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of the psychiatric disorders occurring after the injury. There is a great need for randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials to establish the most effective treatments for these disorders.