No single test can prove you have persistent post-concussive symptoms.

Your health care provider may want to order a scan of your brain to check for other potential problems that could be causing your symptoms. A computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be performed to detect structural brain changes.

If you're experiencing dizziness, you may be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist.

A referral to a psychologist or licensed counselor may be in order if your symptoms include anxiety or depression. Or if you're having problems with memory or problem-solving.

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There's no specific treatment for persistent post-concussive symptoms. Your health care provider will treat your symptoms. The types of symptoms and how often they occur varies from person to person.


Medicines commonly used for migraines or tension-type headaches appear to be effective for post-concussion types of headaches. They include some medicines to treat depression, high blood pressure and seizures. Medicines are usually specific to the individual, so you and your health care provider will discuss which are best for you.

Keep in mind that the overuse of pain medicine may contribute to persistent post-concussion headaches. This can happen with pain medicine you get by prescription or that you buy at the store without a prescription.

Memory and thinking problems

No medicines are currently recommended for the treatment of memory and thinking problems after mild traumatic brain injury. Time may be the best therapy. Most of these symptoms go away on their own in the weeks to months after the injury.

Certain forms of cognitive therapy may be helpful, including focused rehabilitation in the areas that you need to strengthen. Some people may need occupational or speech therapy. Stress can make cognitive symptoms worse, so learning how to manage stress can be helpful. Relaxation therapy also may help.

Depression and anxiety

Symptoms often improve after people understand the cause of their symptoms and that symptoms will likely improve with time. Education can ease fears and bring peace of mind.

If you're experiencing new or increasing depression or anxiety after a concussion, some treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy. It may be helpful to discuss your concerns with a psychologist or psychiatrist who has experience in working with people with brain injury.
  • Medicine. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medicines may be prescribed to help manage anxiety or depression.

Preparing for your appointment

A primary care provider often makes the initial diagnosis of a concussion. Or the diagnosis might be made by a health care provider in the emergency room.

You may be referred to a brain and nervous system disorder specialist, also called a neurologist, or a brain rehabilitation specialist, also called a physiatrist.

If you're referred to a specialist, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and know what to expect from your health care provider.

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medicines, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
  • Ask a family member or friend to go with you, if possible. Sometimes it can be hard to remember all of the information given during an appointment. A friend or family member may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your provider.

Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your appointment. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.

For persistent post-concussive symptoms, some basic questions to ask your provider include:

  • Why are these symptoms still occurring?
  • How long will they continue?
  • Do I need any other tests? Do I need to do anything to prepare for the tests?
  • Are there any treatments available, and which do you recommend?
  • Are there any activity restrictions that I need to follow?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home? What websites do you recommend visiting?
  • When can I return to work?
  • When can I drive again?
  • Is it safe to drink alcohol?
  • Is it OK to take medicines that were prescribed before the injury?

In addition to these questions, don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may give you more time go over any other points you want to cover. Your provider may ask:

  • How did the initial injury occur?
  • Have your symptoms been constant, or do they come and go?
  • What symptoms are you currently experiencing?
  • How often do the symptoms occur?
  • Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, makes your symptoms worse?
  • Are your symptoms getting worse, staying the same or improving?
Jan. 18, 2023
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  2. Loscalzo J, et al., eds. Concussion and other traumatic brain injuries. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 21st ed. McGraw Hill; 2022. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Oct. 13, 2022.
  3. Ferri FF. Postconcussion syndrome. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2023. Elsevier; 2023. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 13, 2022.
  4. Traumatic brain injury and concussion: Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/prevention.html. Accessed Oct. 13, 2022.
  5. Clark CC, et al. Reframing postconcussional syndrome as an interface disorder of neurology, psychiatry and psychology. Brain. 2022; doi:10.1093/brain/awac149.
  6. Rytter HM, et al. Nonpharmacological treatment of persistent postconcussion symptoms in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis and guideline recommendation. JAMA Network Open. 2021; doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.32221.
  7. Esterov D (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Nov. 7, 2022.

Persistent post-concussive symptoms (Post-concussion syndrome)