Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a medical condition that can affect one’s physical, neurological, and/ or emotional functioning and occurs because of experiencing a jolt or blow to one’s head. The specific symptoms that develop 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 individuals, 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. The nature of the symptoms will also vary 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. The brain is the most complex organ in the body, and when it suffers a trauma the initial and expansive effects are largely unknown.
It is important to bear in mind that everyone is unique and the circumstances surrounding an individual’s TBI experience and recovery will be distinct. There are, however, a variety of widespread emotional affects that most individuals, regardless of the severity of one’s TBI, are likely to experience. Common examples of adverse emotional symptoms that present alongside sustaining a TBI could include any combination of the following, provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:
- Anxiety: a feeling of nervousness and/ or fear that is out of proportion to a given situation. The effects of a TBI, for example, could cause an individual to lose confidence in his or her ability to successfully complete certain tasks, which leads to a fear of failure.
- Depression: characterized by overwhelming feelings of sadness, loss, despair and/ or hopelessness that does not improve over time and interferes with one’s ability to function in his or her daily life.
- Personality changes: TBI can result in difficulty controlling one’s emotions which can cause mood swings and increase:
- Frustration: feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction can occur due to the forced changes in one’s life brought on by the TBI.
- Fatigue: feelings of exhaustion, tiredness, weariness and/ or lack of energy. After suffering a TBI an individual may experience physical fatigue, mental fatigue, and/ or psychological fatigue.
A TBI has the potential to change the way an individual feels and/ or expresses his or her emotions.
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