Sep 17, 2020
UW-Madison Study Suggests Concussions Don’t Cause Long-Term Depression

A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that concussions do not have long-term effects of depression on high school athletes, according to a report from

The “Longitudinal Assessment of Depressive Symptoms After Sport-Related Concussion in a Cohort of High School Athletes” sampled 2,160 Wisconsin high school student-athletes, both male and female, that completed a preseason baseline concussion symptom evaluation and questionnaire.

Photo: Chip Griffin / Creative Commons

Of those 2,160 student-athletes, 125 sustained a sports-related concussion in the two-year period, according to the study, which appeared recently in SportsHealth.

The findings suggest that a sports-related concussion does not exert a strong influence on measures of depressed mood in most high school athletes longitudinally over the 12 months after injury. Emotional symptoms after a sports-related concussion are common, but they are typically resolved by a return to sports.

“I think that these results support the WIAA policies that advocate for a prompt removal from play for any suspected sports-related concussion, as well as an early athletic trainer or doctor evaluation, and a guided, systematic assessment of recovery before the athletes are allowed to return to sports,” Dr. Tim McGuine, one of the UW-Madison researchers, told

Despite these findings, the UW-Madison research team still urges clinicians to be observant of postconcussion complications, particularly in student-athletes with prolonged symptoms, history of multiple concussions, or those with a previous history of major depression — based on prior studies.

In addition to Dr. McGuine, who is one of the nation’s leading researchers on high school student-athlete health and well-being, the research was conducted by Dr. Erin Hammer, Dr. Scott Hatzel, and Dr. Adam Pfaller.

» ALSO SEE: Q&A with Mississippi State Strength Coach Collin Crane

Dr. McGuine is also a member of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Sports Medical Advisory Committee and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

To read the full story from, highlighting the UW-Madison study on concussions, click here. And to read the study, published in SportsHealth, click here

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