Developing Depression After a Brain Injury

depression caused by TBIWhen someone suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of a motor vehicle accident, fall, or from an act of medical malpractice, the effects can range from physical trauma to behavioral and emotional changes. Although every brain injury survivor will experience different outcomes due to the location and severity of the brain injury, one common effect of brain injuries is depression.

Defining Depression

Depression is often misunderstood; it is more than experiencing short periods of sadness. Instead, depression doesn’t generally pass with time. It is a real medical condition whose symptoms can be debilitating — even affecting a person for life. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.” It is a mood disorder that affects the way a person functions and even handles daily activities.

Depression is different from simple sadness. For example, it is normal for those who have lost a job or ended a relationship to feel sad, but it is important to remember that feeling sadness or grief is a normal response in such situations. For those who are grieving, sad feelings often come in waves, but for those who suffer from depression, the sad mood as well as other symptoms remain the same for more than two weeks.  

Symptoms of Depression

Some symptoms of depression include:

  • Unexplained sadness that doesn’t go away
  • Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and guilt
  • Lack of energy and increased fatigue
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Sleep problems (insomnia or sleeping too much)
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Lack of interest in hobbies once enjoyed
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

In order to be diagnosed with depression, a person must experience at least five of these symptoms every day for at least two weeks and have problems functioning in daily life. When a person is clinically depressed, it can negatively affect their families, friends, and other people in their lives. Depression even affects a person’s ability to work and make a living. Consequently, depression can wreak havoc on a person’s life — causing life-long changes.

Depression and TBIs

Depression affects over 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In America, more than one out of 20 people over the age of 12 report feeling depressed and about 10% of adults between the ages of 40-59 report being depressed, according to the CDC. While not all of these cases of depression are caused by traumatic brain injuries, it is common for people with TBIs to experience depression. In fact, three out of ten people with a brain injury will have depression, according to BrainLine.org.

While some brain injury survivors may notice signs of depression right away, others may not develop depression for months or even a year or later following their injuries. This is why it is critical that people living with a brain injury report any of the above symptoms to their doctors. Also, it is essential that brain injury victims aren’t in a rush to settle their lawsuits. Generally, those who have suffered head trauma need to wait to settle their claim until the full extent of their injuries are known. This is because treatment for depression can last a lifetime and require ongoing and expensive medication, psychotherapy, and even brain stimulation therapies.

If you have suffered a brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is always best to get an attorney involved from the beginning so that your lawyer can preserve evidence, gather necessary paperwork to support your claim, and give you critical advice. Please don’t hesitate to contact our law firm today for a complimentary consultation.