Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 3-8-2023


Szucs,Grace. (2023). Emotionally Concussed: The Impact of Pre-Existing Anxiety on Concussion Recovery. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Copyright Grace Szucs 2023.


Recent advances in concussion research have shed light on numerous mental and physiological factors that may complicate concussion recovery. Systematic reviews of the existing literature have found that premorbid mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety may be a predictor of complicated concussion recovery, but studies have not had an appropriate design to isolate anxiety or depression as a predictor of lengthened recovery. This study investigated if athletes with a history of premorbid anxiety and/or depression would have a longer time of recovery than athletes without this history. Male and female athletes from a Division-1 athletic department treated for a diagnosed concussion were included in this study. Based on available data, the n was reduced from 178 to 108. Utilizing the Mann-Whitney test for skewed distribution, the median recovery was longer in the experimental group and anxiety/depression was a significant predictor of a lengthened concussion recovery based on the date they returned to play (p= 0.0059), while anxiety alone was not (p=.1482). The greatest challenge with using existing records was an incomplete screening of mental health conditions or incomplete documentation of this screening, limiting the potential sample size as well as the type of confounding variables which could be addressed. While targeted studies with controlled groups such as athletes may provide more information in the future, healthcare providers and researchers involved in the care of concussions should take care to record a full mental health history to appropriately target care and facilitate future research.