Washington: Findings of a recent study suggest that a major traumatic injury – such as car crashes and falls – could increase the risk of mental health diagnoses and even suicide.
The research has been published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
“Major trauma was associated with a 40 per cent increased rate of hospital admission for 1 or more mental health diagnoses,” writes Dr Christopher Evans of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, with co-authors. “The most common mental health diagnoses were alcohol abuse, other drug abuse disorders and major depressive disorders.”
There is little evidence on the link between major injury and later mental health issues. This large study, based on more than 19 000 patients in Ontario, contributes to the literature on this important topic. Most participants who had experienced major trauma were male (70.7 per cent), lived in urban areas (82.6 per cent) and had accidental (89 per cent) rather than intentional injuries.
Male sex, low socioeconomic status, rural residence, accidental injuries and surgery for these injuries were associated with higher admissions for mental health issues. Researchers found that children and youth under 18 years of age had the largest increase in admissions for 1 or more mental health issues after injury.
Suicide is also higher in people with major physical injury, with 70 suicides per 100 000 patients per year compared to 11.5 suicides per 100 000 patients in the general population.
“Patients who suffer major injuries are at significant risk of admissions to hospital with mental health diagnoses in the years after their injury and of having high suicide rates during this period,” write the authors.
The authors urge that mental health support should be offered to all trauma victims, with special attention to high-risk patients, including children and youth.