OC Doctor: Football Players Four Times More Likely to Suffer Depression

Dr. Daniel Amen, with Amen Clinics in Orange County, scanned the brains of 116 NFL players and found that 113 suffered brain damage.

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    Dr. Daniel Amen, with Amen Clinics in Orange County, says football is a "brain-damaging sport" that can cause repeated concussions that lead to brain trauma, depression and violence. Vikki Vargas speaks with him for NBC4 News on May 3, 2012. (Published Friday, May 4, 2012)

    In the wake of football legend Junior Seau’s death, a local doctor is saying football is a brain-damaging sport causing repeated concussions that that lead to brain trauma, depression and violence.

    Dr. Daniel Amen, with Amen Clinics in Orange County, scanned the brains of 116 NFL players and found that 113 suffered brain damage.

    “People who have chronic, traumatic brain injuries, which almost all football players have because they get hit in the head thousands of times in their careers, have a much higher incident of depression and suicidal ideas and suicidal behavior,” Amen said.

    Thirty percent of the players Amen studied had issued with severe depression, that’s four times the rate of depression among the general population, Amen said.

    Former USC linebacker and NFL Pro Bowler Junior Seau was found dead with a gunshot wound to the chest Wednesday at his Oceanside home, and police are investigating the case as a suicide.

    Linebackers, like Seau, who lead with their heads on the field, suffered the most significant damage, Amen said.

    The study showed patterns in damage to the front part of the brain and temporal lobes, under the temples and behind the eyes, which manage mood stability and temper control, Amen said.

    Amen said the brains of contact-sport players and soldier can be rehabilitated. The first step is to get a brain scan, he said.

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