Depression epidemic in professional football?

Fox News--Fox & Friends—May 5, 2012

When NFL legend Junior Seau took his own life this week it shocked his thousands of adoring fans. Here was a hall of famer who seemed to have it all.

With us is Dr. Teena Shetty, M.D., of Hospital for Special Surgery. She is a neurologist and consulting physician for the New York Giants.


Dr. Shetty let's talk about the physical impact of getting hit on the head. One of his teammates estimates that Junior Seau must have had about 1,500 concussions during his career. Is there a link between concussions and depression in mental illness?

Dr. Shetty: Concussion disrupts chemical reactions in the brain and repeated imbalances of that nature may lead to depression. Having said that, without a clearly documented concussion history, any assumption that the head trauma that he may or may not have had has led to his depression is purely speculative.

We know that his family is actually donating his brain to science so that this can be studied. So in other words are we just at the cusp of figuring out the link?

Dr. Shetty: Exactly, there's a lot of research being done currently to investigate that further. The pathology is essential to diagnose the condition of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. And precise incidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy after repetitive head injury is unknown and may perhaps be higher than we think.

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