Postconcussion Syndrome



The cause of PCS is not known. A brain injury may cause a brief change in how brain cells work. This change can get in the way of using the mind and body to do tasks.

Risk Factors

PCS is more common in women. It is also more common in older adults.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • A prior concussion
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Prior anxiety or physical problems
  • Loss of consciousness during the event
  • Loss of memory of the event

Anxiety, trouble with thinking, and noise sensitivity that lasts a few days after the injury may also raise the risk.



Not everyone with PCS feels the same. A person may have:

  • Light-headedness
  • Lack of energy
  • Headache
  • Sleeping problems
  • Lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Feelings of despair
  • Irritability
  • Personality changes
  • A sensitivity to noise and light
  • Problems with focus

PCS may affect daily tasks, social life, and work.


The doctor will ask about symptoms, health history, and activity levels. You will also be asked about your health before you got hurt. Questionnaires and neurological and mental health tests may be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.



The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms until they pass. Options are:

  • Waiting to resume normal activities by resting the body and mind
  • Avoiding things that may jostle the brain, such as sports and roller coasters
  • Medicines, such as:
    • Over the counter or prescription pain relievers
    • Antidepressants to ease depression, anxiety, sleep problems, mood changes, or lack of energy
    • Sleep medicine
  • Counseling to help manage emotions
  • Rehabilitation to help learn new ways to do tasks


PCS cannot be prevented.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.