How Concussions Impact Those with ADHD

Science has shown that concussions can have a serious impact on neurotypical brains over time. In 2010, 2.5 million people suffered from traumatic brain injuries of varying severity, according to the CDC.

A team of researchers has conducted a preliminary study showing that a particular group of people may suffer greater effects following a concussion. In a study of 979 college athletes, those with ADHD showed a higher rate of continuous effects on the brain following a concussion, such as long-lasting anxiety and depression.

The college athletes participated in a questionnaire measuring their anxiety and depression. The results showed that those with ADHD who had a concussion had significantly higher scores for the conditions than those without ADHD.

Anxiety statements on the questionnaire included “I am tense” or “I worry too much over things that don’t matter.” Depression questionnaire statements included “I did not feel like eating” and “I felt that everything I did was an effort.” The evaluation was done at least six months after the participants suffered a concussion

“These findings suggest that ADHD and concussion may have a cumulative effect on anxiety and depression, beyond that of either ADHD or concussion alone,” states Robert Davis Moore, Ph.D. of the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Overall, a variety of groups were analyzed: athletes diagnosed with ADHD and a concussion, athletes with ADHD who never had a concussion and vice versa, and athletes who had neither ADHD or a concussion.

Those with ADHD but no concussion did not show the increased anxiety or depression scores.

Dr. Moore notes that more studies must be done to show cause and effect.

“Athletes with ADHD should be monitored with this in mind, as they may be more susceptible to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety following a concussion,” Moore concluded.


This article was based on a piece by Amanda Hollenbeck for, and can be found here.

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Mike Nickas received his Bachelor of Arts in Film and Multimedia Studies at Florida Atlantic University in December of 2015, and is currently pursuing his second BA at the University of South Florida in psychology with a minor in education. He is the former host of the online news show The Week in Neurodiversity. He also currently works for Dr. Mike Rizzo’s Child Provider Specialists in Weston, FL.