Emotional Problems from Traumatic Brain Injury

Emotional Problems from TBIIt’s normal to feel anxious, confused and irritated after any accident. The rushing adrenaline in the aftermath of a car crash or fall triggers defensive emotions and reactions. But when feelings of worry, irritation and confusion persist, individuals should consider whether they might have sustained a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

One does not need to have an actual blow to the head to suffer from TBI. Any violent shaking can damage the brain. In the vast majority of cases, the immediate emotional upset following an accident diminishes over a few hours or days. But when these feelings persist, something else is probably wrong, especially if these emotional symptoms are accompanied by headache or dizziness.

Sometimes a patient may have no symptoms for a few days after a head injury, but begin to notice headaches and emotional changes a few days later. Post concussion syndrome (PCS) occurs in approximately 40% of TBI patients. The symptoms of the disorder include headaches, dizziness, problems with memory, attention deficit, trouble sleeping, persistent agitation, irritability, apathy, depression and anxiety. The symptoms can include any combination of these disorders.

PCS can last for a few days or a few weeks for 95% of patients. But the remainder can have long-term problems. These symptoms can be as mild as short-term memory loss, but may also create severe emotional problems such as suicidal thoughts, depression, paranoia, delusions, anger, hallucinations and the stress that comes along with such emotional problems.

One of the most frustrating aspects of TBI for patients is being aware of the problems going on in their brains but not being able to stop it from happening. For the families of TBI victims the frustrations lie in the “invisibility” of the illness. It is often not apparent to those outside the family, leavings family members only with each other to lean on in coping with TBI. Family members often struggle to maintain their compassion for brain injury victims who lash out in aggressive behaviors.

The changes in temper, conduct and cognition can create profound problems for the patient in daily life, disrupting interactions with family, friends and coworkers. Not only do patients need therapy to retrain the brain, they often need emotional therapy to cope with the anxiety, depression and grief brought on by TBI.

By seeking early treatment for emotional problems following a brain injury, patients can reduce the level of their symptoms and increase their functioning in daily life. Social workers and psychiatrists may support the family and patient, managing symptoms through talk therapy and medications.

Technology has advanced greatly in recent years and treatments may diminish the symptoms of TBI. But there is no technology to treat the emotional problems that come with the injury.

If you or a family member suffers a serious disability because of a traumatic brain injury, you should contact our office for a free consultation. You may be eligible to pursue a claim against the responsible party, which can help pay for the long-term treatment required for brain injured patients.

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