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Traumatic brain injury as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” TBI can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning. The symptoms that manifest because of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on the type of injury, the severity of the injury, as well as the area of the brain that was injured. For some, a TBI may only affect the exact location on the brain where the injury occurred, while for others a TBI could also affect surrounding tissues and cause damage to one’s brain in other areas apart from the initial site. Symptoms that present with TBIs can range in severity and duration. The nature of the symptoms can shift as some TBI symptoms may appear immediately and dissipate rather quickly, while others could present several days or weeks later, and some experienced symptoms may evolve over time. While there are many symptoms associated with TBI, increased risk for developing dementia and its associated symptoms (e.g., sundowning) following traumatic brain injury is not uncommon.

What Is Sundowning?

Sundowning is also known as sundown syndrome or late day confusion. Physiopedia explains sundowning as “a neurological condition that describes confusion and restlessness that occurs in the late afternoon or early evening in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia.” Sundowning is not a disease, but a group of symptoms that consistently occur at a specific time of day. Common signs and symptoms of sundowning could include, but are not limited to the following examples provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Disorientation
  • Suspiciousness
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Reduced attention levels
  • Mood changes 
  • Delusions
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Paranoia 

While the exact cause of this behavior remains unknown, certain factors (e.g., fatigue, low lighting, increased shadows, disruptions to one’s circadian rhythm, etc.) have been known to exacerbate late-day confusion. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com