After a Traumatic Brain Injury: The Impact of Emotional Changes

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can affect a person’s emotions by changing the way one feels or expresses emotions. This happens because damage occurs to part of the brain that controls emotions. As a result, people with TBIs can be happy one moment and then angry or sad the next moment. This is especially hard on family members of a TBI survivor because there may be no trigger or warning to let someone know the injured person is going to act out emotionally.

Emotional Changes After a Brain Injury

Not only are traumatic brain injury survivors affected by emotional mood swings, but they experience other emotional problems, such as:

  • Anxiety. Brain injury victims may feel fearful, worried, and nervous without really knowing why they are feeling this way. When TBI survivors are stressed, pressured, overwhelmed, or in crowded environments, they may feel anxious or experience panic attacks.
  • Depression. When people are depressed, they typically feel sad and worthless. Additionally, people who struggle with depression generally withdraw from others and don’t show an interest for anything in life. They may struggle concentrating and have thoughts of suicide.
  • Frustration. Because TBI survivors often feel anxious and depressed, and they have a hard time concentrating and expressing themselves, they may get easily frustrated.  Frustration can quickly lead to irritability and possible temper outbursts.

Families of brain injury survivors need to remember that the aforementioned emotional changes are side effects of TBIs and to try and not take it personally if their loved ones act this way. Although it is important to overlook some of your loved one’s emotional changes, you do not want to ignore it. TBI victims need counseling from mental health professionals. In addition to psychotherapy, brain injury survivors may also need medication, structured routines, and support from brain injury groups in addition to understanding from their families.