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Does TBI cause emotional effects?

A wide range of physical effects can accompany traumatic brain injury (TBI). When these injuries are severe, patients often require ongoing treatment and therapy to make a full or partial recovery. 

While the physical effects of TBI are challenging, the emotional effects are even more so. According to the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, there are a variety of emotional effects that can also occur with TBI. While difficult for the individual patient, they are also very challenging for the patient’s family. Here are a few of those effects and how they impact patients.  

Depression

Depression is a common factor with severe injuries. This is especially true when there are distinct changes in functioning and ability. These changes often overwhelm TBI patients. They might also miss doing things they once enjoyed.  

Professional treatment for depression can help patients develop healthy coping mechanisms and thinking. Some patients can also take medication to prevent severe, lasting bouts of depression.  

Anxiety

While it is normal to experience anxiety when in a fearful situation, it can also occur without cause. People sometimes experience a general form of nervousness, or they can go through acute panic attacks, which are periods of intense fear.  

Anxiety after TBI occurs because of physical damage to the brain, or it can occur as a result of a patient feeling pressured to do things before they are ready, such as returning to work too soon. 

Mood swings

Certain parts of the brain regulate moods. When these areas sustain damage, patients can experience rapidly changing moods for no real reason. A person might appear happy one minute and sad the next, or even experience anger and irritability.  

Most people are able to regulate their moods again as they progress through the recovery process. While they are acclimating, family and friends should express sympathy and patience when faced with mood swings.  

Some TBI effects are permanent, while others resolve after weeks or months. In either case, patients must receive proper treatment and care to ensure good health and quality of life.