Dealing With Your Emotions After A Traumatic Brain Injury
The brain can be injured in all kinds of accidents: smoke or chemical inhalation, near-drownings, drug overdoses and interactions, falls, construction accidents, traffic collisions, sports accidents, and even medical malpractice.
In other words, a brain injury can happen unexpectedly to anyone.
If you sustain a brain injury, what is your legal recourse?
What about the impact of a brain injury on your mind, thoughts, and emotions?
Both of these important topics are discussed here.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a million people a year in the U.S. sustain a brain injury.
Most of these brain injuries are concussions, and most concussion patients heal quickly, but about a quarter of a million people in the U.S. are hospitalized each year and require long-term care for a brain injury.
Tragically, the most severe brain injuries are also the cause of about 50,000 deaths a year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also estimates that more than three million persons in the United States are now permanently disabled as the consequence of a traumatic brain injury or “TBI.”
WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO SURVIVORS OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES?
The other consequences of a traumatic brain injury can include paralysis, loss of memory, loss of the ability to talk, a loss of motor control, and the loss of body functions.
Those who survive the most catastrophic brain injuries may be permanently disabled and may require a lifetime of costly medical care.
Brain injuries often cause a substantial change in the way a person experiences feelings and expresses emotions.
A person who has experienced a traumatic brain injury may have to deal with several kinds of emotional issues including unpredictable mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
People who exhibit frequent mood swings – what is often described as an “emotional roller coaster” – experience emotions quickly and powerfully, but briefly.
They may get angry or ecstatically happy for what seems to be no apparent reason – which may be confusing to family members – and then the emotion may fade as quickly as it appeared.
WHAT CAN CAUSE MOOD SWINGS?
Mood swings may be caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls emotions.
For most brain injury victims who experience mood swings, the mood swings usually decrease in frequency and intensity as the brain heals, and after a few months, many brain injury patients are “themselves” once again in terms of their emotions.
Counseling can often help, and your doctor may also recommend medications to help brain injury patients deal with mood swings.
The family members of a traumatic brain injury victim can help by remaining calm if the patient experiences a mood swing, by acknowledging the patient’s feelings and concerns, by calmly providing supportive feedback, and by gently and casually redirecting the patient’s attention to another activity, topic, or concern.
WHAT CAN CAUSE ANXIETY AFTER A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY?
Anxiety is defined as an overriding and inescapable sense of nervousness and fear that is disproportionate to the situation generating the feeling.
Often, patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries experience episodes of anxiety without even knowing precisely what they are anxious about.
Emotionally-sensitive patients may fear that they are making “mistakes” or failing to live up to the expectations of others.
Brain injury patients may experience anxiety in crowds, around loud noises, when plans or schedules are changed at the last moment, and in any number of other situations.
Difficulty thinking and concentrating may also cause a brain injury patient to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
The family members of a brain injury patient can usually help reduce the patient’s anxiety by reducing demands, pressures, and unnecessary stresses the patient may feel or experience.
For most TBI patients, anxiety can be treated with medications and counseling.
WHY DO TBI VICTIMS SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION?
Sadness is a natural emotional response to the pain, loss, and sorrow that accompany a traumatic brain injury, but if the sadness becomes overwhelming and persists over time, the patient may be suffering depression.
Depression’s symptoms can include emotional withdrawal from others, a loss of interest in friends and activities, sleep disorders, a loss of appetite, and in some cases, thoughts of suicide.
Both physical and chemical changes to the brain may trigger depression.
When depression associated with traumatic brain injury is a direct consequence of the injury itself, the depression will usually fade away as the patient recovers and heals. In other cases, however – and especially when a brain injury means long-term or permanent disability – depression may arise more slowly as the patient loses hope for a quick recovery and a quick return to a “normal” life.
Depression isn’t a fault or a weakness. It’s an illness, and it isn’t cured by wishing or by willpower.
If someone you love experiences depression after a traumatic brain injury, get treatment for your loved one immediately.
Every serious brain injury presents challenges, but there’s no reason for unnecessary suffering.
SHOULD A TBI VICTIM’S LOVED ONES SEEK MEDICAL AND LEGAL ADVICE?
Sadly, many traumatic brain injury patients also display extreme irritability, temper outbursts, or occasional episodes of aggressive and hostile behavior – even if the patient was known as a calm and sweet-tempered person before sustaining the brain injury.
Researchers tell us that as many as seven out of ten persons living with a traumatic brain injury exhibit frequent irritability.
If someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury and exhibits mood swings, anxiety, depression, or emotional outbursts, talk to your loved one’s doctor about counseling, therapy, and medication.
You may also be able to find help and encouragement from a brain injury support group.
You can probably find one online that meets in your area, and your loved one’s doctor may also be able to recommend some helpful resources.
In the state of Texas, when someone else’s negligence is the cause of a traumatic brain injury, the victim is entitled by law to complete compensation for all TBI-related medical costs, lost income, and additional damages.
However, to obtain that compensation, a TBI victim will need the advice and representation that a personal injury attorney can provide.
If you or someone you love suffers a traumatic brain injury because another person was negligent and irresponsible, discuss the accident, the injury, and your legal rights and options as quickly as possible with a skilled Edinburg personal injury lawyer.
Your attorney will provide frank legal advice, and if you are entitled to compensation as a brain injury victim, your attorney will fight aggressively for the justice you deserve and the compensation you need.
By Chris Brasure
Brasure Law Firm, PLLC was founded by Chris Brasure in 2006. His legal accomplishments are diverse and numerous. He is a fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, was a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and holds a BA in political science and speech communication from Baylor University. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Baylor University Law School. Chris believes that education is absolutely critical to one’s success, so his firm now offers The Brasure Law Firm Scholarship to give back to the community and to help students who are seeking to pursue a higher education.