Active, Attentive & Effective Representation

Mental health issues that may result from a TBI

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Brain Injury |

After suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI), most people expect to have some physical symptoms for a time. These can include headaches, vision problems, memory loss and more.

Fewer realize that TBIs can worsen pre-existing mental health issues. They can also cause them in people who didn’t have them prior to their injury. These can be just as debilitating as physical symptoms.

Common emotional changes after TBI

Some symptoms may be temporary. Others may be longer term and require therapy. They can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Anger
  • Apathy
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Personality changes

The last one may be more obvious to loved ones than to the injured person themselves. Many of these symptoms occur because the injury disrupts the way the brain works and communicates with other parts of the body.

The inability to process feelings and events in the way a person usually does can lead to exaggerated responses and mood swings. That’s why they may feel intense anger or sadness at something they would have previously brushed off. Small mishaps can feel like traumatic events, for example.

Some other symptoms of TBI can exacerbate emotional changes. For example, insomnia, headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, memory problems and inability to concentrate can all be frustrating and leave people with a short fuse.

Changes in a person’s behavior and reactions are often a result of a TBI’s effect (“dysregulation”) on the autonomic nervous system that controls – among other things — what’s often referred to as the “fight or flight” response. This can lead to increased anxiety and even signs of PTSD.

The right treatment can make all the difference

While it’s typically necessary to treat the physical symptoms of a TBI and other injuries before getting mental health treatment, those emotional changes should be carefully monitored – especially if they’re slowing physical recovery and certainly if someone is having suicidal thoughts or has a history of mental illness.

Each person’s path to recovery looks different after a TBI, and everyone heals at their own speed. If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health challenges after an injury, remember that psychological treatment is as important as medical care. That can and should be included in any settlement you accept from those at fault for the harm in question.