December 1981

Psychiatric Disorders in Patients With Spinal Cord Injuries

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Fullerton, Klein, and Howell) and Rehabilitation Medicine (Dr Harvey), University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(12):1369-1371. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780370071010

• Although previous studies have reported that all patients with spinal cord injuries experience depression, they have not distinguished between despondency and depressive disorder. Of 30 patients with spinal cord lesions and depressive disorders diagnosed using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia and the Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC), 15 patients had RDC diagnoses before or after their injury. A depressive disorder developed in nine after injury. Eight depressive disorders developed within a month of the injury. Postinjury depressive disorders were more common in patients with complete spinal cord lesions but were divided equally between paraplegics and quadriplegics. Only one patient received antidepressants. The remainder recovered without treatment other than the rehabilitation program. The accident causing the injury seemed related to a psychiatric disorder before injury in six patients (four alcoholics and two hypomanics) and to drinking before the accident in 15 patients.