Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) cause a range of effects depending on their severity and the area of the brain that has been damaged. Many of these effects are physical, with some TBI victims experiencing mobility issues or needing to re-learn basic tasks and chores.
In other cases, TBI can have emotional effects, which can be very disruptive to a person’s life, both professionally and personally. Here are a few of the potential effects TBI can have on a person’s emotional responses and feelings.
Anger and irritability
Increased anger is natural for many TBI victims. In some cases, anger may stem from damage to the part of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and feelings. It may also be caused by changes in a person’s life, which can feel frustrating and limiting. A person with TBI might lash out unexpectedly over seemingly trivial matters. Or they may harshly criticize loved ones for perceived slights or faults. When irritability and angry outbursts are unable to be controlled, seeking the service of a mental health professional is usually necessary. Learning new coping mechanisms and improving communication when feelings of anger come up is also helpful.
When a person has difficulty regulating their emotions, they may also experience problems with mood swings. A person might appear happy and at ease one minute, only to be sad and melancholy the next. Mood swings can occur randomly, or they can be triggered by an event or situation. Some people only experience problems with mood swings temporarily, while others continue to have issues long after their accident occurred. If so, medication may be necessary to regulate changing moods.
Anxiety and depression
Along with the above effects, victims of TBI also experience more serious psychological issues. Anxiety is characterized by a feeling of worry that does not match the situation or circumstances you are experiencing. This may involve panic attacks, which are acute episodes of anxiety that can be triggered by reminders of what caused the brain injury. A person may also experience generalized anxiety throughout the day.
Depression is different from sadness and melancholy. Instead, it is a deep feeling of hopelessness and despair that lasts several weeks or longer. It can also involve feelings of guilt and shame or even thoughts of suicide. Both anxiety and depression should be considered serious mental health issues. Along with counseling, they can also be treated with medication. Making better lifestyle changes, like exercising and eating right, is also beneficial for reducing their effects.