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The Emotional and Psychological Impact of a Traumatic Brain Injury

The term Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can describe a wide range of injuries. At the mild end of the spectrum are concussions of various degrees, and at the more severe end there are cases where the skull is fractured and foreign objects do damage to the brain.

Clearly, TBIs can have serious physical effects. However, it’s also important to be aware of the very real emotional and psychological damage these injuries can cause. This article will give you an idea of at least a few of these.

Connection Between Suicide and Traumatic Brain Injury

A TBI is not only a physical injury. These injuries can have long-term psychological effects, radically altering the quality of life for those who experience them. One clear example of this comes in the link between TBI and suicide.

A Danish study into the link between suicide and TBI examined the causes of the more than 34,500 suicides that took place in Denmark between 1980 and 2014. This study found that people with medically documented TBIs made up 10 percent of these suicides.

Trine Madsen of the Danish Research Institute of Suicide Prevention said, “Individuals with mild TBI, with concussion, had an elevated suicide risk by 81 percent…. But individuals with severe TBI had a higher suicide risk that was more than double.”

Three factors were strongly linked to the risk of suicide from TBI: the severity of the TBI, receiving a TBI in young adulthood, and being hospitalized for a TBI in the last six months before the suicide occurred.

The Emotional Experience of Traumatic Brain Injury

Beyond the link between suicide and TBI, these injuries can have a range of other serious psychological and emotional effects. One could speculate that the suicides attributed to TBI are often the result of unusually strong cases of these types of symptoms:

  • Mood Swings

Damage to the part of the brain that regulates emotions can cause “emotional lability.” Most of the time these symptoms improve in the first few months after the injury occurs. However, any individual who has difficulty controlling their emotions may be unpredictable. Make sure a doctor knows if you experience mood swings.

  • Anxiety

Anxiety can come from the individual’s inability to reason and concentrate the way he or she normally would. An individual who suffers a TBI may be easily overwhelmed, especially if asked to make decisions. Some medications can help this symptom, and it’s a good idea to reassure the person that they are doing all right.

  • Depression

Depression after a TBI is a normal emotional response to the changes that come with the injury. In some cases it can also be a result of damage to the brain areas that regulate emotions. Antidepressants, aerobic exercises, and a number of other treatments can help alleviate depression.

  • Short Temper or Irritability

Up to 71 percent of people with TBIs are frequently irritable. Like many of the other symptoms, irritability can be a normal emotional reaction to the injury or a result of damage to the parts of the brain that regulate emotion. Stress reduction techniques, anger management skills, and some medications can help with this problem.

What Shall I Do if I Experience a Traumatic Brain Injury?

If you or a loved one has suffered from a TBI because of someone else’s negligence, you should talk to a trusted brain injury attorney as soon as you can. You may be entitled to compensation for personal injury, which should at least cover the medical treatment for the accident. We strongly advise that you speak to a skilled attorney you can trust, before you talk to any insurance company representatives.

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