How Long Does Anxiety Last After TBI?

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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. Not all hits to the head result in a TBI. 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. Further, TBI symptoms may appear immediately and dissipate rather quickly, while others may present several days or weeks later, and further, persistent symptoms may evolve over time. 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines anxiety as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” According to the Mayo Clinic, having occasional feelings of anxiety is a typical part of life. Anxiety is a natural emotional reaction in response to stressful situations. Specifically, anxiety is among the most common side effects of TBI. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) notes anxiety as a frequently experienced short and long-term symptom of TBI. While the aftermath of a TBI can be incredibly stressful and anxiety provoking for anyone, experiencing persistent, debilitating anxiety is not healthy, and could be indicative of an anxiety disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates 40 million adults, approximately 18% of the population, deal with an anxiety disorder, including those that have sustained TBI. Therefore, it would be impossible to provide a general timeframe that would be universally applicable for how long an individual will experience anxiety after sustaining a TBI. 

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