Depression and Anxiety Have a Greater Association With Postconcussion Symptoms Than a Remote History of Sport-Related Concussion in College Students

Eric O. Ingram, Justin E. Karr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) measures cognitive, sleep-arousal, physical, and affective symptoms that typically follow sport-related concussion (SRC). Mental health symptoms are associated with postconcussion-like symptoms, regardless of concussion status. This study examined whether mental health or SRC history had a stronger relation with symptom reporting and investigated the association between PCSS scores and perceived academic functioning. College students (N = 554) reported SRC history, current anxiety and depression symptoms, and academic self-efficacy. Participants were divided into healthy, SRC, anxiety, and depression groups then compared on individual symptom endorsement, symptom severity (total score and subscales), and academic self-efficacy. Healthy participants had lower endorsement rates than the anxiety/ depression groups on all PCSS items (ps <.001) but vomiting, and lower symptom severity on each PCSS subscale and the total score (ps <.001, d range =.89 to 1.86). The healthy and SRC groups differed on only one item (i.e., trouble falling asleep, p <.001), one subscale (sleep-arousal, p <.01, d =.33), and the total score (p <.01, d =.27), with subtly greater severity in the SRC group. The cognitive subscale had the strongest relation with academic self-efficacy for every group (rho range = –.23 to –.36). Larger differences emerged when comparing healthy participants to those screening positive for anxiety/depression than those with an SRC history, indicating current mental health has a stronger relation with postconcussion-like symptoms than remote SRCs. Cognitive symptoms were strongly associated with perceived academic ability. In college students with a history of SRC, mental health symptoms may explain lasting symptoms and necessitate intervention for academic performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-64
Number of pages14
JournalTranslational Issues in Psychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 22 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Psychological Association


  • anxiety
  • depression
  • postconcussion syndrome
  • self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology


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