How to Deal with Emotional Changes after Brain Injury

A person who has suffered a brain injury may suffer severe consequences, including emotional changes. There are several behavioral and emotional effects of a brain injury that can include anger outbursts, extreme emotions, irritability, agitation, and aggressiveness.

If you see these signs in your loved one, understand that these Are effects of the injury. Also know that your loved one may seem self-centered and selfish, after the injury. Your loved one may also be much more prone to dark moods, or symptoms of depression. Remember, a traumatic brain injury is very often linked to depression. It is important to get help and report these symptoms to the doctor. Victims also sometimes suffer feelings of restlessness, or anxiety.

When the part of the brain that controls emotions and mood is damaged, the victim may exhibit strange behavior that they cannot control. All of these changes are typical after a brain injury, and it’s important for loved ones to realize that life after a brain injury for the victim may not be the same as before. Seek professional help or psychological counseling if you find yourself unable to deal with all of these changes. Most importantly, don’t blame yourself for these changes in your loved one.

Depression After Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury can have several detrimental psychological and emotional effects on a person. A person, who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, is also very likely to go on to suffer from symptoms of depression. In fact, approximately half of all persons who suffer from a traumatic brain injury also develop symptoms of depression.

There are several reasons why a brain injury may cause depression. For instance, there may be fiscal changes that occur in the brain due to the impact of the injury, and that may change the chemical levels in the brain. Besides, a person who struggles with performing even normal day-to-day tasks after a brain injury, also begins to feel dejected with his inability to do so, and may suffer from low self-esteem, contributing to feelings of depression.

It’s important to get treatment for symptoms of depression. Talk your doctor about the traumatic brain injury that you have suffered, because this will help the doctor understand the reason for your depressive feelings. In many cases, the depression may also be accompanied by feelings of anxiety. But there are various treatments available for these conditions, including medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other forms of therapy.

Anxiety After Traumatic Brain Injury

Individuals who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries may also experience bouts of anxiety. Anxiety is characterized by a general feeling of nervousness or fear for no reason. It is common for victims to fear anxiety about failing, making mistakes, doing something wrong, or receiving criticism for their behavior.

After a brain injury, certain situations may become more difficult for victims to handle, especially being in loud, noisy crowds, rushing or changing plans at the last minute. Although people who have not suffered from a brain injury would be able to handle these situations with ease, victims of a brain injury may find them overwhelming and exhausting.

Victims may experience a sudden burst of anxiety that is triggered by memories of the accident or something else, such as the events mentioned above. Besides this sudden onset of anxiety, victims may also suffer from generalized anxiety that lingers for no particular reason throughout the day. Regardless of what type of anxiety your loved one experiences, it can be scary, stressful and difficult to live a life this way.

Why do brain injury victims suffer from anxiety? After an injury, it is more difficult for victims to think on their feet, make decisions or process the environment around them because of brain damage. When someone places too many demands on a victim, he can easily become overwhelmed and begin to experience anxiety that he will not live up to expectations. In other situations, such as those with loud noises or lots of people, the victim may have trouble processing all of the sensory stimuli, and may become anxious as a result.

If you believe that a loved one is suffering from anxiety as a result of a brain injury, don’t hesitate to talk to a medical professional. Like depression, there are various therapies and medications that are available to treat anxiety and make the victim’s quality of life better. In the meantime, try to avoid putting the victim in situations that will cause anxiety. Don’t go to concerts or festivals with loud music and big crowds. Talk slowly to him, and don’t rush him to return back to work after an accident. This time constraint can put a lot of pressure on an accident victim and cause a great deal of anxiety.

How Can Loved Ones Cope With Emotional Changes?

During an emotional outburst, loved ones should remember to stay calm and not place blame on the victim. After all, remember that this reaction is out of his or her control. If you begin to emotionally overreact, the victim will sense your anger and respond to it.

Give your loved one a chance to talk about his or her feelings that led to the outburst and try to help the victim understand that the behavior was not warranted. After you calmly speak to your loved one and get him to calm down, remain supportive and show him that you’re not going anywhere, even with these outbursts.

Always consult with a physician if you are concerned about your loved one’s behavior after a traumatic brain injury. No one will be able to advise you on how to help your loved one better than a doctor. Keep track of any symptoms or emotional outbursts that your loved one has and relay all information to the doctor so he can recommend a plan of action.

For more resources that can help you cope with life after a loved one’s brain injury, talk to a brain injury attorney in Denver. For help filing a claim for compensation, schedule a consultation with a brain injury attorney in Denver.


By: Dallas Norton

Dallas Norton, the founding partner of Norton & Bowers, has practiced law with a focus on personal injury since 1992. Mr. Norton has extensive Colorado roots including grade school in Arvada and high school in Denver. He earned his J.D. from Brigham Young University Law School in 1991. When working on behalf of clients, Mr. Norton draws upon his extensive background in psychology and human resources.