When people think about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), they most strongly associate it with the different kinds of physical damage it can cause to the brain and, by extension, to problems in bodily functioning and mental ability. These include paralysis, difficulty moving, memory problems, and speech difficulties. But one aspect of TBI that's often overlooked are the resulting psychological or psychiatric difficulties.
Psychological problems can arise from damage to the brain, and also from people's struggle to cope with life changes in the aftermath of the TBI. They've become well-documented in the ongoing research (such as in this paper), as scientists continue trying to figure out which psychological disorders TBIs have the strongest impact on. Here are some of the reasons people may require psychological or psychiatric care following a TBI:
- Depression. With depression, people can persistently suffer from very low moods, emptiness, a lack of purpose in life or willingness to live, suicidal ideation or suicide attempts, a loss of pleasure in things they used to like, and changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Depression reduces quality of life and interferes with people's work and relationships.
- PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). The trauma of the accident can cause people to regularly experience vivid nightmares and flashbacks. It also interferes with their lives as they stay tense and anxious, attempting to avoid similar situations to the one that caused them so much pain and stress.
- Other anxiety disorders (including OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Having an anxiety disorder is about more than experiencing worries. It's when your anxiety is so excessive it gets in the way of your life; you can be limited in where you go, what you do, who you talk to. It's difficult to control on your own. What's more, clinical anxiety often goes hand-in-hand with other psychological problems.
- Bipolar disorder. People can experience episodes of depression along with episodes of mania, where one can become abnormally energetic, aggressive, prone to hallucinations, and gripped with racing thoughts and feelings of grandiosity (which could even reach a point where they're delusional about their capabilities as human beings).
- Changes in personality. Some people experience significant changes to their basic personality. Someone who was steady, self-motivated, and warm to other people may become persistently withdrawn, apathetic, erratic, and angry. This may ruin their lives, disrupting their relationships and their performance at work and school.
- Psychotic episodes. Though relatively rare, some people report experiences of psychotic episodes following a TBI, where they suffer some kind of break from reality such as being in the grip of a delusion or a hallucination.
If you're struggling with these problems in the aftermath of a TBI, please contact us. It's important to fight for necessary compensation from insurance companies and also from anyone who was responsible for the TBI. These kinds of psychological or psychiatric problems take a serious toll on people's health and on their lives more generally; they can't be overlooked when discussing the care people need after a TBI.