My child seems sad or depressed. Is this normal with a concussion?

A concussion commonly causes emotional symptoms such as feeling sad, down, irritated or frustrated—particularly in adolescents. If your child has pre-existing mental health concerns the symptoms may worsen with a concussion.

Emotional changes in some children can be the result of physical changes in their brain associated with the injury itself. For others, not being able to go to school, participate in team sports, or attend social functions may lead to feelings of sadness and isolation. These emotional symptoms can interfere with recovery. Early intervention is key.

Monitor your child throughout the recovery period for signs of emotional changes. You should contact your child’s healthcare professional if you notice any of the following warning signs:

  1. Symptoms such as anxiety, sadness or depression with a change or deterioration in functioning at school or in relationships with family or peers
  2. Symptoms of depression (withdrawn, sadness, etc.) that last most of the day and for longer than 2 weeks, or other emotional symptoms (anxiety, acting out, etc.) that lasts longer than 3 months
  3. Any expression of self-harm or suicidal thinking

If you are concerned, you should contact your healthcare professional. Additional resources may include a school counsellor, school psychologist or other community based mental health services.

Strategies that can help support your child’s emotional well-being include:

  • Providing opportunities for socialization
  • Allowing your child to remove him/herself from situations they aren’t tolerating well
  • Providing avenues for your child to express him/herself
  • Accessing school resources e.g. school counsellor or psychologist

More information on supporting a child’s emotional well-being can be found in the Resources section.

Emotional symptoms can interfere with recovery—early intervention is key