Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
There is no specific treatment for post-concussion syndrome. Instead, your doctor will treat the individual symptoms you're experiencing. The types of symptoms and their frequency are unique to each person.
Medications commonly used for migraines or tension headaches, including some antidepressants, appear to be effective when these types of headaches are associated with post-concussion syndrome. Examples include:
- Amitriptyline. This medication has been widely used for post-traumatic injuries, as well as for symptoms commonly associated with post-concussion syndrome, such as irritability, dizziness and depression.
- Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45) combined with metoclopramide (Reglan). These medications may provide relief for chronic headaches, but they must be administered intravenously in the hospital.
Keep in mind that the overuse of over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers may contribute to persistent post-concussion headaches.
Memory and thinking problems
No medications are currently recommended specifically for the treatment of cognitive problems after mild traumatic brain injury. Time may be the best therapy for post-concussion syndrome if you have cognitive problems, as most of them go away on their own in the weeks to months following the injury.
Certain forms of cognitive therapy may be helpful, including focused rehabilitation that provides training in how to use a pocket calendar, electronic organizer or other techniques to work around memory deficits and attention skills. Relaxation therapy may also help.
Depression and anxiety
The symptoms of post-concussion syndrome often improve after the affected person learns that there is a cause for his or her symptoms, and that they will likely improve with time. Education about the disorder can ease a person's fears and help provide peace of mind. If you're experiencing new or increasing depression or anxiety after a concussion, some treatment options include:
- Psychotherapy. It may be helpful to discuss your concerns with a psychologist or psychiatrist who has experience in working with people with brain injury.
- Medication. To combat anxiety or depression, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed.
- Evans RW. Post-concussion syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 4, 2011.
- Wright DW, et al. Head trauma in adults and children. In: Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=6388784. Accessed June 1, 2011.
- Jotwani V, et al. Postconcussion syndrome in athletes. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2010;9:21.
- DeLee JC, et al. Head injuries. In: DeLee JC, et al. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?sid=1168525515&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3143-7..10015-6--s0015&isbn=978-1-4160-3143-7&uniqId=257618564-3. Accessed June 1, 2011.
- Prigatano GP, et al. The current status of postconcussion syndrome. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 2011;24:243.
- Traumatic brain injury: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tbi/detail_tbi.htm. Accessed June 4, 2011.
- What you need to know about air bags. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/airbags/airbags03/airbags1.html#1065115450. Accessed July 13, 2011.
- Cicerone KD, et al. Evidence-based cognitive rehabilitation: Updated review of the literature from 2003 through 2008. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2011;92:519.