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Coping with the Mental and Psychological Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury

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Posted on March 28, 2014

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can result in certain types of short and long term complications. Common changes following a brain injury often include changes in the person’s mental and psychological state which affect personality and behavior. It helps for caregivers, family members and friends to be prepared for the mental and psychological effects a traumatic brain injury can have on their loved one.

What to Expect Regarding the Mental and Psychological Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury

Depending on the area of the brain affected, a person who experiences a traumatic brain injury can exhibit changes, impairment, or imbalance within the brain’s centers responsible for emotion, mood, and feelings.

  • Short or long-term personality changes: A brain injury patient may become more or less outgoing, have sudden vocal outbursts, become withdrawn and less talkative or lose interest in his/her favorite activities.
  • Loss of mental filters: Patients may speak their mind or verbalize socially awkward or rude comments if the injury affected the part of the brain that tells them when to exhibit restraint or keep certain thoughts to themselves.
  • Emotional instability: Depression and anxiety result from changes in brain signals and can be influenced by different circumstances. Moods may linger for days or they can change abruptly in a few hours. Anxiety may range from general restlessness to full-blown panic attacks. A patient’s own frustration in self-recognition of the symptoms may cause feelings of further hopelessness and psychological duress.
  • Temperament/irritability issues: A patient may seem less tolerant of changes and stressful/busy environments, and may become argumentative or even uncharacteristically aggressive. Noticeable frustration and tolerance issues may be more prominent when the injured person is over-tired or under stress.
  • Difficulties with social cues: A brain injury patient may lose the ability to detect non-verbal cues such as gestures or facial expressions. The injured person may be unable to recognize when others are becoming uncomfortable or irritated or may fail to understand why people are smiling or laughing.

It’s important to understand that the injury is responsible for the behavior. Family friends are encouraged to simply support the recovering injury victim through patience and understanding while guiding that person with extra sensitivity.


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