The Psychological Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury, sometimes known by TBI, is a condition that is caused by a blow or penetrating injury to the head that disrupts brain function. Statistics indicate that every year, 2.8 million people suffer from a TBI. Of those, approximately 50,000 will die. 232,000 will require hospitalization. The rest, nearly 90% of all cases are treated and released from emergency departments.

Falls account for the great majority of traumatic brain injuries. Motor vehicle accidents comprise about 14% of traumatic brain injuries. Assault is responsible for just 9% of all brain injuries. Not all traumatic brain injury is marked by a loss of consciousness, though this is a common factor.

No matter the cause of the initial injury, one important factor of a traumatic brain injury are the psychological effects that a person suffers following the injury.

“The psychological effects of traumatic brain injury can be long-lasting,” says David Bressman, attorney and co-founder of Bressman Law. Indeed, the psychological after-effects of a traumatic brain injury can last just a few days or weeks to having life-long behavioral and personality changes.

One of the most common changes early after a traumatic brain injury is a loss of inhibition. Called disinhibition, this psychological change occurs when a person loses control over their behavior, which can result in inappropriate social behavior. This disinhibition can range widely, from merely giving too much personal information to even having bouts of uncontrolled rage.

Another common after-effect of TBI is irritability and aggression. Those who have suffered from a brain injury often report, and have loved ones report that they have become more impatient, intolerant, and having an increased sense of irritability.

Mood swings are another often reported psychological effect of a traumatic brain injury. This can particularly be the case when the part of the brain that controls emotions and behavior are damaged. Usually, however, this psychological effect tends to resolve on its own.

Depression and anxiety are two other psychological effects that often occur after a traumatic brain injury. The anxiety may be born from the difficulty in concentration and memory loss that also often accompanies a traumatic brain injury. Anxiety can occur when too many demands are placed on a person with a brain injury, such as returning to work too quickly. Depression can result when a person suffering from a traumatic brain injury is trying to cope with a temporary or long-term disability resulting from the injury.

Another psychological impact of traumatic brain injury is that the injured person may suddenly withdraw or have a lack of involvement or initiative. A person may have to be frequently reminded to accomplish daily tasks such as brushing teeth or taking a bath. They may require encouragement and/or supervision to complete tasks that they normally completed on their own.

Traumatic brain injury can have a multi-faceted and long-lasting impact on both the person suffering from the injury and loved ones. It is important that a physician or a psychologist be consulted in all cases of traumatic brain injury to oversee the full recovery process, which can take up to two years.