Day 523

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Chris was 31 when he died by suicide.

After his death it was discovered that his depression was likely to have been an effect of a head injury he had when he was seven. Recent research shows that many people who have had a head injury have hormone deficiencies afterwards, caused by damage to the pituitary gland. Chris suffered not just depression but also impotence, both of which can be caused by hormone deficiencies.

About a million people with head injuries are seen in A&E departments every year in the UK and there is growing concern that doctors are missing a common complication that may not become apparent for months, sometimes years, after discharge.

Post-traumatic hypopituitarism (PTHP) occurs when the pituitary gland, a vulnerable walnut-sized structure at the base of the brain is damaged following a blow to the head. The gland regulates the actions of eight key hormones controlling the immune system, stress response, thyroid function, growth, puberty, sex drive and fertility. It acts like the conductor of an orchestra, ensuring that the right amount of hormones are released at the right time. Chaos ensues if it stops working properly.

The resulting symptoms vary depending on the degree of injury and the hormones affected. These may include lethargy, low mood, fatigue, weakness, loss of sex drive and impotence. Often these can be misdiagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalopathy(ME) or Fibromyalgia. A battery of tests need to be done to make an accurate diagnosis. Once diagnosed, the treatment comprises of replacing the deficient hormones.

Chris’s mother, Joanna Lane has been actively campaigning to raise awareness around PTHP within the medical community and the society at large. She has researched the subject in great detail on her website: http://www.headinjuryhypo.org.uk/index.html

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