Asking head injury history is critical
I'm writing to highlight the potential risks of hypopituitarism following traumatic brain injury, particularly head injury in childhood.
Research published in the European Journal of Endocrinology in 2006 suggests this is an underdiagnosed condition.
The indications are it is far more common than previously supposed, affecting somewhere between 25% and 40% of head injury survivors.
My reason for concern is that my son committed suicide at the end of August this year at the age of 31. I believe he suffered from undiagnosed hypopituitarism stemming from a traumatic brain injury he sustained when he was seven.
I understand one of the more frequent effects of hypopituitarism is hypogonadism and loss of libido. After my son's death I discovered he had suffered from erectile dysfunction.
His girlfriend, who stayed with him for four years, confirmed in all their time together they had never been able to have normal sexual relations.
When she left him five years ago he attempted suicide, and on a psychiatrist's recommendation he had counselling. He also had counselling in the final five weeks of his life.
Nobody he spoke to – GP, psychiatrist, counsellors – seems to have suspected his depression might have been connected to his childhood brain injury. If they had, he could have been treated for his depressed hormone levels.
Joanna Lane, Retired teacher