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Concussions and Their Psychological Effects Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 24th, 2020

Having a concussion is a common event. Statistics show that 128 people out of every 100,000 in the United States are affected by it. It should be noted that this figure is drawn from the official data calculated by the number of instances of requiring professional medical aid in hospitals and, in real life, it is even higher (Ropper & Gorson, 2007). Concussions have a wide range of psychological effects that will be investigated in this paper.

First of all, it is necessary to determine the nature of the problem and its symptoms. Concussion, in general, is referred to as a loss of consciousness followed by a brief period of amnesia resulting from trauma caused by any blow to a head (Ropper & Gorson, 2007). It can take a variety of forms from the slightest feeling of a daze to the most severe outcomes such as memory disturbance, amnesia, and posttraumatic nervous instability characterized by hysteria, anxiety, and depression. Because the primary reason for concussions is head trauma, it is common for sportsmen and kids to lead active lifestyles. However, there are many instances of having one accidentally. What is dangerous about them is that sometimes concussions remain unnoticed, especially in the cases where there were no symptoms or they lasted for just a couple of hours. That said, they can lead to the further development of mental health problems.

As of the most common symptoms of concussion, they are usually disabling and include dizziness, clumsiness, mild headache, trouble concentrating, irritability, and weakness. However, in the most severe cases, concussions might also cause vomiting and fluid flowing from ears or nose similar to cerebrospinal fluid (Ropper & Gorson, 2007). Their duration varies from a couple of hours to weeks and even months.

The psychological effects of concussions depend on the severity of trauma and its symptoms. However, it should be highlighted that they might evolve if not detected at the right time and treated properly. The first and most common psychological effect of concussions is what is referred to as mood swings. It is characterized by the inability to control one’s emotions with a quick shift from apathy to irritability and impatience, from lack of initiative to vigilance and back to unresponsiveness to arousal, etc. (Nelson, Janecek, & Mccrea, 2013). The primary determinant here is that there is no apparent reason for such alteration. What can also be related to mood swings is the change in personality, i.e. starting behaving unusually without any obvious cause. Mood swings and change in personality are the foundations of other psychological implications of concussions.

Furthermore, concussions can lead to higher levels of stress. Because sometimes trauma has no severe symptoms but is characterized only by a mild headache or emotional instability, it can as well cause the desire for self-isolation. Together with mood swings and the fact that once unnoticed and untreated, the symptoms might be lasting, concussions significantly affect the ability to handle stresses leading, in the most complex cases, to anxiety and depression disorders.

What is more troubling, in the case of serious injuries, people might demonstrate difficulties in returning to their social functions (Howell, Osternig, Van Donkelaar, Mayr, & Chou, 2013). Because sometimes symptoms of concussions are durable, they hurt the mental health of a patient, the pace of recovery, and the desire to get back to normal life. This psychological effect is usually characterized by depressive moods that are the result of the very fact of having a trauma. It may be aggravated by gender and age. For example, it is generally accepted that men should be brave and tolerate any injuries. This stereotype is especially grave in sports or about young males. For this reason, in the case of head trauma, they choose to ignore it or tend to self-isolation once hospitalized. These decisions are motivated by the fear of being criticized by other men for showing weakness, and they hurt the recovery of social interactions.

Another potential psychological effect of concussions is the choice to limit social activities and change the way of life towards becoming less active. It is usually caused by the fear of having another trauma that might be more severe than the initial one or even leads to lethal outcomes. This decision is especially common after sequential traumas. In similar cases, people choose to become inactive and distance themselves from particular activities that might be dangerous. For example, they might decide to stop going in for sports. It, again, leads to self-isolation and the lack of self-confidence and is caused by depressive moods resulting from concussions.

So, what can be said about the psychological effects of concussions is that they hurt the social life and well-being of a person who had head trauma. Whether it is the slightest mood swing or depression and self-isolation, they all influence the quality of life, so, for this reason, it should not be ignored.


Howell, D., Osternig, L., Van Donkelaar, P., Mayr, U., & Chou. L. S. (2013). Effects of concussion on attention and executive function in adolescents. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(6), 1030-1037.

Nelson, L. D., Janecek, J. K., & Mccrea, M. A. (2013). Acute clinical recovery from sport-related concussions. Neuropsychology Review, 23(4), 285-299.

Ropper, A. H., & Gorson, K. C. (2007). Concussion. The New England Journal of Medicine, 356(2), 166-172.

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