Emotional problems are frequently reported by people suffering from a traumatic brain injury. Some of the more common emotional issues faced include depression, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability.
Let’s look at each in a bit more detail so you’ll know what signs to look for.
Depression after a traumatic brain injury is a common and very serious problem. Researchers have found that people suffering from brain injury are three times more likely to experience depression than those without a brain injury. This increased risk of depression occurs whether the injury was mild, moderate, or severe.
That being said, it is important to note that feelings of sadness are very common after suffering a traumatic brain injury. These feelings do not necessarily indicate that you are suffering from depression.
In addition to feeling sad, there are several other common indicators of depression:
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Changes in sleeping habits (whether sleeping much more than normal, poor sleeping, or inability to sleep)
- Changes in appetite
- Losing interest in things you used to care about (including spending less time with friends or family, not engaging in hobbies you use to, and missing time from work)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide
If you or someone you love is experiencing one or more of these symptoms after a recent brain injury, it is important you consult with a health professional. Depression is not a personal failing, it is a disease and there are good treatment options available.
After suffering from a traumatic brain injury caused by another, some degree of fear and stress will be normal. However, these feelings can be signs that you are suffering from anxiety if they interfere with your life and relationships.
Several types of anxiety disorders have been identified. These include:
- Panic disorder: causing sudden feelings of terror when there is no reason to be fearful
- Phobias: an intense, irrational fear of a place, object, or situation
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: unwanted thoughts or feelings that make you feel compelled to perform certain actions over and over
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: repetitive flashbacks and/or nightmares to a stressful and traumatic event
Counseling has proven to be effective in dealing with certain types of anxiety. In addition, there are medications that can help people overcome anxiety.
Mood swings are the most common emotional problem found in people with traumatic brain injury. Just because they are relatively common, however, does not mean they should be taken lightly. They can be a serious problem if they are excessive, frequent, and begin to interfere with daily life.
If you are experiencing mood swings after a traumatic brain injury, there is a good chance they are caused by damage to the part of the brain that regulates mood and behavior. Signs that you are suffering from mood swings include laughing, crying, or showing some other emotion for no apparent reason.
While this can be unsettling for the people around you, the good news is that the mood swings will often go away as the brain begins to heal. However, it is still important to discuss your mood swings with your health professional. While the mood swings often go away with time, they could indicate a more serious problem.
We all feel irritable from time to time. However, people who have suffered from a brain injury often display symptoms of extreme irritability that indicate something beyond the norm.
Researchers have found five main components of post-traumatic-brain-injury-irritability:
- Negative feelings: feelings of being overwhelmed, of frustration, or uncertainty
- Behavioral triggers: Trouble controlling impulses and managing time were common complaints after a brain injury
- Negative thoughts: Worrying about others’ view of them as well as thoughts about how much easier things were before the injury
- Relationship issues: Problems with communicating post-injury, along with increased need for support, caused irritability
- Environmental triggers: noisy and chaotic environments, lack of routine, and social pressure all contribute to feelings of irritability
Identifying situations that can trigger irritability may help you avoid those situations. Additionally, there are medications physicians prescribe that can help reduce feelings of irritability.
Recognizing the symptoms and seeking help are the best steps you can take to reduce the problems associated with these issues. Of course, most of these solutions cost money, and it’s likely that the change in behavior itself has had a negative impact on your life.
Do not discount the emotional side of things when seeking compensation for a TBI. While physical injuries certainly deserve attention, all of it needs to be accounted for, and you need to work with someone who knows how to get results.