Emotional Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury

Tessa Hart, PhD and Keith Cicerone, PhD, Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center
Emotional Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain injury and emotions

A brain injury can change the way people feel or express emotions. A person with TBI can have several types of emotional problems.

Difficulty controlling emotions or “mood swings”

Some people may experience emotions very quickly and intensely but with very little lasting effect. For example, they may get angry easily but get over it quickly. Or they may seem to be “on an emotional roller coaster” in which they are happy one moment, sad the next and then angry. This is called emotional lability.

What causes this problem?

  • Mood swings and emotional lability are often caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls emotions and behavior.
  • Often there is no specific event that triggers a sudden emotional response. This may be confusing for family members who may think they accidently did something that upset the injured person.
  • In some cases the brain injury can cause sudden episodes of crying or laughing. These emotional expressions or outbursts may not have any relationship to the way the persons feels (in other words, they may cry without feeling sad or laugh without feeling happy). In some cases the emotional expression may not match the situation (such as laughing at a sad story). Usually the person cannot control these expressions of emotion.

What can be done about it?

  • Fortunately, this situation often improves in the first few months after injury, and people often return to a more normal emotional balance and expression.
  • If you are having problems controlling your emotions, it is important to talk to a physician or psychologist to find out the cause and get help with treatment.
  • Counseling for the family can be reassuring and allow them to cope better on a daily basis.
  • Several medications may help improve or stabilize mood. You should consult a physician familiar with the emotional problems caused by brain injury.

What family members and others can do:

  • Remain calm if an emotional outburst occurs, and avoid reacting emotionally yourself.
  • Take the person to a quiet area to help him or her calm down and regain control.
  • Acknowledge feelings and give the person a chance to talk about feelings.
  • Provide feedback gently and supportively after the person gains control.
  • Gently redirect attention to a different topic or activity.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of fear or nervousness that is out of proportion to the situation. People with brain injury may feel anxious without exactly knowing why. Or they may worry and become anxious about making too many mistakes, or “failing” at a task, or if they feel they are being criticized. Many situations can be harder to handle after brain injury and cause anxiety, such as being in crowds, being rushed, or adjusting to sudden changes in plan.

Some people may have sudden onset of anxiety that can be overwhelming (“panic attacks”). Anxiety may be related to a very stressful situation — sometimes the situation that caused the injury — that gets “replayed” in the person’s mind over and over and interferes with sleep (“post traumatic stress disorder”). Since each form of anxiety calls for a different treatment, anxiety should always be diagnosed by a mental health professional or physician.

What causes anxiety after TBI?

  • Difficulty reasoning and concentrating can make it hard for the person with TBI to solve problems. This can make the person feel overwhelmed, especially if he or she is being asked to make decisions.
  • Anxiety often happens when there are too many demands on the injured person, such as returning to employment too soon after injury. Time pressure can also heighten anxiety.
  • Situations that require a lot of attention and information-processing can make people with TBI anxious. Examples of such situations might be crowded environments, heavy traffic or noisy children.

What can be done about anxiety?

  • Try to reduce the environmental demands and unnecessary stresses that may be causing anxiety.
  • Provide reassurance to help calm the person and allow them to reduce their feelings of anxiety when they occur.
  • Add structured activities into the daily routine, such as exercising, volunteering, church activities or self-help groups.
  • Anxiety can be helped by certain medications, by psychotherapy (counseling) from a mental health professional who is familiar with TBI, or a combination of medications and counseling.

Depression

Feeling sad is a normal response to the losses and changes a person faces after TBI. Feelings of sadness, frustration and loss are common after brain injury. These feelings often appear during the later stages of recovery, after the individual has become more aware of the long-term situation. If these feelings become overwhelming or interfere with recovery, the person may be suffering from depression.

Symptoms of depression include feeling sad or worthless, changes in sleep or appetite, difficulty concentrating, withdrawing from others, loss of interest or pleasure in life, lethargy (feeling tired and sluggish), or thoughts of death or suicide.

Because signs of depression are also symptoms of a brain injury itself, having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean the injured person is depressed. The problems are more likely to mean depression if they show up a few months after the injury rather than soon after it.

What causes depression?

  • Depression can arise as the person struggles to adjust to temporary or lasting disability and loss or to changes in one’s roles in the family and society caused by the brain injury.
  • Depression may also occur if the injury has affected areas of the brain that control emotions. Both biochemical and physical changes in the brain can cause depression.

What can be done about depression?

  • Anti-depressant medications, psychotherapy (counseling) from a mental health professional who is familiar with TBI, or a combination of the two, can help most people who have depression.
  • Aerobic exercise and structured activities during each day can sometimes help reduce depression.
  • Depression is not a sign of weakness, and it is not anyone’s fault. Depression is an illness. A person cannot get over depression by simply wishing it away, using more willpower or “toughening up.”
  • It is best to get treatment early to prevent needless suffering. Don’t wait.

Temper outbursts and irritability

Family members of individuals with TBI often describe the injured person as having a “short fuse,” “flying off the handle” easily, being irritable or having a quick temper. Studies show that up to 71% of people with TBI are frequently irritable. The injured person may yell, use bad language, throw objects, slam fists into things, slam doors, or threaten or hurt family members or others.

What causes this problem?

Temper outbursts after TBI are likely caused by several factors, including:

  • Injury to the parts of the brain that control emotional expression.
  • Frustration and dissatisfaction with the changes in life brought on by the injury, such as loss of one’s job and independence.
  • Feeling isolated, depressed or misunderstood.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, expressing oneself or following conversations, all of which can lead to frustration.
  • Tiring easily.
  • Pain.

What can be done about temper problems?

  • Reducing stress and decreasing irritating situations can remove some of the triggers for temper outbursts and irritability.
  • People with brain injury can learn some basic anger management skills such as self-calming strategies, relaxation and better communication methods. A psychologist or other mental health professional familiar with TBI can help.
  • Certain medications can be prescribed to help control temper outbursts.

Family members can help by changing the way they react to the temper outbursts:

  • Understand that being irritable and getting angry easily is due to the brain injury. Try not to take it personally.
  • Do not try to argue with the injured person during an outburst. Instead, let him or her cool down for a few minutes first.
  • Do not try to calm the person down by giving into his or her demands.
  • Set some rules for communication. Let the injured person know that it is not acceptable to yell at, threaten or hurt others. Refuse to talk to the injured person when he or she is yelling or throwing a temper tantrum.
  • After the outburst is over, talk about what might have led to the outburst. Encourage the injured person to discuss the problem in a calm way. Suggest other outlets, such as leaving the room and taking a walk (after letting others know when he/she will return) when the person feels anger coming on.

Questions to ask your physician or treatment provider to better understand your problem

If you or your family members are experiencing anxiety, feelings of sadness or depression, irritability or mood swings, consider asking your doctor:

  • Would psychological counseling be helpful?
  • Would an evaluation by a psychiatrist be helpful?
  • Are there medications that can help?

More about medications

If you or your family member tries a medication for one of these problems, it is very important to work closely with the physician or other health care provider who prescribes them. Always make a follow-up appointment to let him or her know how the medication is working, and report any unusual reactions between appointments. Remember that:

  • There can be a delay until the beneficial effects of medications are felt.
  • Doses might need to be adjusted by your doctor for maximum benefit.
  • You may need to try one or more different medications to find the one that works best for you.
  • Except in an emergency, you should not stop taking a prescribed medication without consulting your doctor.

Peer and other support

Remember, too, that not all help comes from professionals! You may benefit from:

  • A brain injury support group — some are specialized for the person with TBI, others are for family members, and others are open to everyone affected by brain injury.
  • Peer mentoring, in which a person who has coped with brain injury for a long time gives support and suggestions to someone who is struggling with similar problems.
  • Check with your local Brain Injury Association chapter to find out more about these resources. Go to www.biausa.org to find brain injury resources near you.
  • Talk to a friend, family member, member of the clergy or someone else who is a good listener.

Recommended reading

Posted on BrainLine November 28, 2017

Our health information content is based on research evidence and/or professional consensus and has been reviewed and approved by an editorial team of experts from the TBI Model Systems.

Authorship
Emotional Problems after TBI was developed by Tessa Hart, PhD and Keith Cicerone, PhD, in collaboration with the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center. Portions of this document were adapted from materials developed by the UAB TBI Model System, the Mayo Clinic TBI Model System, the New York TBI Model System, the Carolinas Rehabilitation and Research System, and from Picking up the Pieces after TBI: A Guide for Family Members, by Angelle M. Sander, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine (2002).

Please check the MSKTC site for any recent updates on this article.

Emotional Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury. (2010). Retrieved November 28, 2017, from http://www.msktc.org

Comments

Not just wives. It it seems that they take most of their frustrations out on those closest to them. I am a mother who's son has TBI and he is so mean to me.

My son has so many of the same symptoms your husband has. He has become so insensitive and insulting. He has always loved kids but it wasn't until he was 33 that he had a son with his GF. He idolizes his son who is going on two now but has a niece that he seems to single out and is downright mean to her. She's only seven and its killing her because she doesn't understand why this person she absolutely loves is treating her so badly. I cry a lot and pray that its only temporary. I so feel for you and others going through this.

I was a victim of crime, shot in the head when I was 15 on November 16th 2009. When I came out my coma I spent 1 month in rigorous therapy then continued my treatment as an outpatient. It’s now been 8 years and only NOW are the effects of my accident kicking in. I feel like my life is falling apart and often have this feeling of being “out of place” or that I am losing myself. The feelings are getting worse and I have been getting treatment/medications but I feel like it’s not helping. I don’t know where to go now, I feel that I am losing hope... and I can’t find anyone that has dealt with this. I am just looking for advice on how to cope.

Almost 4 months ago, I was the VICTIM OF AN EXTREMELY VIOLENT PHYSICAL ASSAULT BY AN AUTISTIC MALE ADULT THAT LEAD TO SEVERE BRAIN TRAUMA (CONCUSSION HAS DETERIORATED INTO HEMANGIOMA AND STILL WAITING FOR AN ANGIOGRAM MRI TO FIGURE OUT IF MAIN VEINS ARE INJURED) PLUS EYE TRAUMA (HE TRIED TO GOUGE MY LEFT EYE OUT) AS HE TWISTED MY NECK AND OF COURSE PTSD. I WAS ASSAULTED FROM BEHIND (NEVER SAW IT COMING), UNAWARE AND UNPROVOKED!!!!
I was working a spring-summer contract as an educational gardener, teaching schoolchildren how to plant seeds and create organic vegetable gardens in their schoolyards. This summer, my boss had the brilliant idea of not only offering this service to kindergartens and schools but also an autistic center. I was not comfortable with this since I had no training in dealing with mentally challenged adults.
I did plant the seeds with a group composed of mostly Down Syndrome adults because they were more functional unlike the other patients (they call them clients) that were autistic. I had to return almost every week to check on the seedlings, and make sure they were watered. I must admit I never felt comfortable in this environment nor did I feel safe.
On a beautiful afternoon in June I went to the Autistic Center, I followed the procedure, open the main door and stay there until the person in charge would fetch me and open the door to the plant area (a room that could also be accessed by the outside without having to go through the center where all the clients (autistic people) where hanging out. The moment I opened the main door I felt something was wrong, its hard to tell what it was among the moaning, screaming, whatever other noises but there was violence in the air.
It happened as the person in charge and I were opening the door to the plant area. Not only did he assault me, his mother was there to pick him up, after he assaulted me he turned to his mother and violently attacked her in front of me grabbing her by the hair and hitting her...the story goes on.
I was told by the person in charge that I had TRIGGERED him because I happened to walk in !!!! Really stupid thing to say to someone that has just been assaulted. I guess the person in charge was trying to put the blame on me when it was her decision to let me in knowing this autistic person was already having a meltdown before I walked in hence my feeling of violence in the air was real. I could have gone through the outside door and not have to deal with going through the center. I continued my duties, watering the plants, although I was very dizzy and my eye was in bad shape, guess the adrenaline was on, I could not continue because I was shaking (this lasted 8 hours). After the assault, the person in charge wanted me to come back through the center, at that point I was traumatized and refused to go back in as she tried to tell me it was OK (OK? the person in charge obviously lacked proper judgement and the autistic center does not have any security measures, no male presence to subdue with strength out of control clients, and probably no cameras...).
I have been trying to deal with this new situation in my life, its extremely difficult and sad and getting quite frustrating. This is a difficult case since I am in the grey zone, I am a victim of criminal physical assault yet because he is autistic it rules out pressing charges or getting help as a victim of assault. I can only press charges on the Center for lack of protection, security measures and judgement. Up to now, the personal injury lawyers I have called to inquire about what to do seem quite interested until they ask my age (around 50) then they just say I dont have enough proof (?!) and they cant take this case!!!
I am in Canada, more specifically in Quebec (Montreal) can anyone recommend a personal injury lawyer or anyone with knowledge of the legal system it seems like I am being tossed into the cracks of the system and being left to rot...autistic people seem to have more rights than myself..this incident has left me completely at loss of everything regarding a normal functioning life..all the important spheres of life have been severely affected : family, work, physical and mental...not looking forward to winter since I have become dependent on others to drive me to my appointments and anything concerning chores (my eyesight is totally messed up)...I am now dealing with the brain trauma and that is sad enough.

Hello to all!
My mom suffered 2 brain aneurysms, she's 2 years post, and really having problems with depression and anxiety. I'm her oldest (29), a brother who is (17) and a sister (7) who is Autistic. She's loosing her home, her husband died and it makes me really sad. She was a nurse, so all of this is really hard for her, as well as us. She'll never be the same although she can somewhat function properly. This has taken a toll on my life as well. I wish you all nothing but the best wishes! TBI's are hard.

Ok. First you are not alone-others are and have been thru this! That does not mean it is not hell right now in your life!!! :-( But I can tell you beyond a doubt major positive changes can happen--and i am only one testament. It means there is Great Hope, with time and good help.

I offer the below as a fellow TBI'er, graduate of a Intensive Cognitive Rehab Program (fyi was rejected at firect because I was in too bad a mental state), and for over two years working at a Brain Injury Model System Magnet rehab hospital with outstanding outpatient programs and and with a passion for brain science and Emotional Regulation & Support groups.

Having what I call the "Cumulative Effect" (Personally having 18+ know LOC/unconsciousness with two more serious 'TBI's" that sent me into a totally different league in terms of cognitive & in particular "Emotional Dis-Regulation". Emotional Issues are the 2nd Half of the TBI Equation--albeit less know and understood in my humble option.

So What you are going thru is fairly normal after TBI, but VERY serious and dr's must be aware even if not a ideal choice. I had ptsd via 9/11 & 2 TBI's. Twice I had to admit self admit myself to a hospital/psychiatric facility to protect myself and my daughter when being overly aggressive in general public or 'overreacting' at home. I will not lie I hated it and left as soon as possible but it still gave me a respite of sorts and a calm environment to help collect my 'confused thoughts' and meds are often introduced.

Would love to share a bit of my learning that has worked for me. For starters Exercise Literally Kills Stress and Builds Brain Cells---Scientific Facts...and if ever get to a level of longer run 4+ for many a meditative state can be a dual benefit as meditation (a kind that resonates for you (progressive muscle, mindfulness, breath focused, gilded audio, or a walk in the woods, Finally I found a study at Mount Sinai for "Emotional Regulation" within the brain Injury population...ongoing, yet pilot year plus study was Very Positive/effective. I took park and it really helped.

Hang in there TIME IS YOUR FRIEND...just try and survive! and make sure you seek help before you lose it.

Two great quotes two exerience pych/BI Dr.'s said:
"You Are Stronger Then You Think" - i did not believe it but it helped ans was true
"You Are Going To Have A Non-Linear Recovery"- so absolutely true. Just make it through the lows ok. Just Survive If You Must--i've been there

Sending Positive Thoughts going you way. I Fully Promise you it can and will get better over time...but deal one minute at a time. Folks are often fearful to seek help, but the def of courageous is acting in spite of fear, not lack of fear.

Two Mantras that kept me alive...find you own.
NEVER GIVE UP, Never Never Give up, Never Never Never Give up!
Faith Not Fear

After years of dizziness and migraines as a child the doctors excused these symptoms as growing pains... in 2004, at the age of 40 I was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma. I responded by doing everything the medical field was telling me to do for this Brain Tumor. I had radio surgery and was watched for a few years. After the surgery, I was told by my doctor "You won't even know you had the surgery". So when my symptoms grew even worse, I went in for a scheduled check-up. When the doctor asked how things were going? I told him, and this was his response! "I can do another operation". My response to that was "No Thank you". The professional doctor slammed my file on his desk, would no longer look at me and said " There is nothing more I can do for you". Let's just say my life has never been the same, I don't know what is in store for me...Hopefully I will be able to take care of myself one way or another when I don't even know who I am...

My experience has been the field seems even more resistant when it comes to diagnosing TBI in miniorities.  I know I'm not crazy, I'm injured and I'm close to losing everything.

12 times with a concussion, at least the ones that put me out. I never felt any irritability until the last one. Now I'm a monster, I barely make it through my days, and if someone slams the door, or complains about their life, or tries to dump their stress on me, I just break down and start screaming and cussing and punching. I know I am ruining my family, my children are scared to death of me, my wife is an angel but I fear her grace won't last. I think about suicide every day, but can't go through with it too afraid I would mess up my children. I don't have any friends anymore I can't stand my family and haven't spoken with any of them for years. I've worked really hard to try to get better spent lots of money and time on therapies and different diet and supplements. I barely function at work I just go to work and back to the house and when I'm home I lock myself in my room, it's been two years. I have to stay distracted hundred percent of the time, if I'm not distracted my thoughts will race and I will think about everyone and what they're thinking about me and how they weren't there for me or how they wrong to me and Boom, rage. I went from being physically active and a very good athlete, to a guy that can't do 10 push-ups, not because my body won't do it but because my head freaks out I get this crazy popping in my head and my ears and my eyes, and then I go into to rage then it's fatigue. Not just a regular fatigue, but if a T where I don't have the energy to connect for a conversation with anybody. I already only connect with my wife and my two younger children, I can't stand my older kids and they are angels. This is not life, it's just hell!
Hello, im close to 50, an suffered a TBI, loss of consciousness, in a car accident in 2010. I am a diff person, with many of the symptoms most speak of here. Worked my entire life in my career field, often 6-7 days, @ 10-16 hrs daily. I loved my line of work more than most ever get too. I wish now i hated my job before, so i wouldnt miss being able to do it now. I was considered 1 of the best in my field, & now i just hate,my life, cuz im mean, frustrated, sad, angry, & have euined nearly all my friendships. I wish i were more positive, and had a better outlook, but no matter how much i try, i cant find that frame of mind post head injury. I feel for all of you, because i understand. & the spouses may have it as hard or harder than the injured. If my wife was not so supportive, or i had been single before & today, .....Well, lets just say that i prolly wouldnt be typing this, or breathing at all. I hope you all have better luck than I, at keeping a good outlook on life, & trying to learn to manage your ptsd, anxiety, & anger issues with each passing day. I figure if its not gotten better much in 7 yrs, its prolly not. Done tons of doctors, meds, therapy, U name it. Church prolly helped the most, but my best friend was a really old farmer from church who died at 98, and although u think u should be happy he had a great life, im really angry cuz i miss him so much. I starting to cry, just thinking about him now. May God bless you all, & dont be like me, get up everyday and try your best. I know what the alternative is, & u dont wanna be there eveey day of your life, just waiting for the day the constant daily pains & headaches go away once & for all. I may not be able to take my own advice, but hope you all will continue to find hope in ea new day, unlike myself. Regards

I had frontal lobe surgery in '08 due to a car accident. I don't remember much but I was in the hospital for about 4 months altogether. I thought I was okay but now the longer I'm being faced with life's moments (such as having a family) it is really taking its toll on my family. i never knew why I would get anxiety and overwhelmed by such little stupid things but finding information out there is really helping me understand what I need to do to live a good life

I fell out of tree about 25 feet & landed on a piece of wood. I hit my head hard. My head is slightly misshapen, my back broke in many places (ribs, shoulder blades & spinal damage). It was bad. I remember coming to on the wood pile, ringing in my ears, and not being able to move my legs. I flipped myself over, sat my top half on my bottom half and crawled until I could pull myself up. This happened when I was 8. I'm now 34. I can walk, but my back hurts constantly. Along with my hips and my head. I have pressure in my head constantly. I feel like I have a permanent headache. I have a very short memory, I have to make notes everyday so I don't forget what I'm doing. I get moments where I'm just enraged at the stupidest things. My fingers if the tips are hit just right I hear ringing in my ears, get hot, feel like I'm going to pass out, become nauseous & then lose my vision for a few minutes. Its awful. I never thought a game of hide & seek would leave me like this. As I've gotten older my memory is getting worse & where I broke arthritis is setting in & hurts. Life goes on & you deal with the pain. Brain injuries are no joke.

I was pitching in a baseball game at the age of 13 and took a 120 mph line drive to the back of the head (occipital lobe). I was unconscious, throwing up on the mound, and rushed to the hospital. Spent a week in ICU with a brain contusion, fortunately, surgery wasn't needed. I'm 24 years old now and looking back at all these symptoms; I had them shortly after and still have them today. It's scary. I'm now more aware of what exactly happened and the effects of it, but I still have major episodes of anxiety throughout the day everyday. As much as I remind myself why I feel so much anxiety, the anxiety is still there. I get anxiety from having to or wanting to speak about things. It's unexplainable but it's there. I just keep plugging along the best I can.

I injured my frontal lobe on the left side in June of 2016 went through a time of panic and anxiety thought I was having heart attacks pain everywhere could not sleep called into work almost daily because could not function went to several doctors they could not or would not listen because I answered their question truthfully about my feelings of self harm . I cant drive very much due to this took my vision away to a large degree  I know I am slowly healing but it is hard and hours just pass me by I do not want to harm myself or others I just want my previous life back because My wife and I had plans for our future as retired persons. I know there is hope and I am making progress ever so slowly I just can't go to see these doctors because it is 15 minutes and get out the just want me to leave they know they don't have the tools to meet my many needs. All i feel that I need is to have God, and family and friends plenty of rest and stop looking for solutions on the web I used to be the go to guy for all things I knew it and could solve it now I have to go slow and remember sometimes I can then sometimes days later it comes and I fell better because all is not lost it is just creating new pathways of missing thoughts to get back to my normal process I know I do not make a lot of sense right now ,but six moths ago I was a serious basket case I am planning to make a complete recovery because I can look around and see family and grandchildren that need me to return to them as I was before and not this sick person they have to come in to see and hug and then be quite because I can take the crowds or noise this is a goal I have set to work toward happiness and my happiness is me doing my best to make others happy it is like help others and you will be blessed 10 times over for your good deeds. Please remember God is touching me and has blessed me and he will put people and things in your life that will help you . All you have to do is ask and it will happen. 

Yeah but I don't stop shaking. Yeah what can I do about it

I fell two weeks ago and broke my nose but my head - above my eyebrow - took the brunt of my fall. I still have a red bump which is tender and painful, causing me headaches and insomnia. I slept too much the first week, now I have insomnia. I can't seem to regulate my sleep, anxiety, and depression. It is quite scary.

My 8 yr old son fell backwards and hit his head on the ice playing hockey and he felt nauseous and dizzy for a few days after. He was also waking up numerous times in the the night for many nights freaking out, feeling extreme anger and agitation but not understanding why. I appreciate reading people's stories here and can see that this is part of the concussion issue. It is sad how so many of you are suffering. :( I pray for healing for all of you!!...

My son (age 9) just had shunt put in for nph and its his 4th brain surgery. He has a rare brain cyst, cluster headaches and now hydrocephalus. His second he suffered a stroke that affected the emotion area of his brain. He cries, can't control anger, and can not deal with not controlling situations. I don't know what to do. We have four kids and it's hard. We try to be there, love him through it, and pray God gives him peace with it. I'm sorry you suffer so much and we will pray for you!

I recently had a large menangioma removed from my frontal lobe. Literally, 3 weeks ago. I'm still in the healing phase with the scabbing and glue from the incision. Within the last week, I feel like an emotional train wreck. Ups and downs. Anger. Crying. It's like it's never-ending. I feel like I'm losing my mind and it scares the crap out of me even more. Please tell me that there is some sunshine at the end of my storm. 😢

I suffered from an A.B.I. at the age of 19. The major issues that I suffered seem to have subsided but many of the deeper and invisible issues have remained. For instance tension in head and jaw, losing my temper, controlling my emotions and a feeling of inadequacy. I have carried on to have a good life. I have two beautiful boys and a partner who puts up with all my quirks. But I can't get over feeling like a failure. I have no idea what can help in the future, and maybe nothing will. I just hope that I can learn to relax and not get so upset or cry at the drop of a hat.

My Common Law BF had a TBI at the age of 15, he was in a head-on collision when he suffered his TBI, he was in a coma for about a week and almost died from severe brain swelling, his now 46 and He reacts severely to small changes, he rarely shows empathy and goes into rages regularly, he says he cant control himself, he recovers from a rage within 5 minutes sometimes, other times it can last up to 3 days, his has excessive moodiness and goes into an immidiate rage right out of a midday nap or after sleep, its weird we've been together 7 years and never seen him act normally after waking up from a midday nap he goes right into war mode, there were times his opened his eyes at 3am and threw me on the floor and told me to get the f out of his house, called me a million names, rolled over and went back to sleep. Ive since learned not to be home when his napping, there are other issues too, like when he wants something he has to have it that same minute, much like a child his needs must be met immidiately, he has zero patience for anything, after living with him a while I notice how abnormally he acts to everyday little mishabs of lifes curve balls, in his mind things have to go exactly the way he thinks they should go, because he has terrible issues with having to solve his own problems without getting angry about the smallest annoying things.....honestly the stuff he complains about is not a big deal , to him its a major issue that has to be fixed immediately, and not fixed by him but by someone else which is usually me, he has connection issues, intimacy issues, and acts very much like a personality disordered Narcissist, and after his accident he started drinking and remained an alcoholic until the age of 42, i think drugs and alcohol slowed is brains ability to heal properly, he also says he had to relearn how to talk and do many other things on his own after his accident, and theres a large portion of his life that has been erased during that time in his life, I really think 31 years later his personal life was severly impacted because his unstable emotional state, he has been in about 15 relationships and has had children with other women, nobody could seem to put up with his shit, I've had him arrested several times, had him forced into all sorts of programming and rehab, his life suffers because of the impact of his TBI, our relationship has suffered, but thats the only way I could help him by pointing out all his problems and forcing him to take accoubtibility and teach him to take responsibility for the way he is, we have many ups and downs and Ive given him 2 sons, and they are teaching him new ways of dealing with life, teaching him patience and love, he didnt get the opportunity to raise his older children and Ive givin him another chance, since then he has a better handle on himself since quitting alcohol almost 4 years ago, and him going to rehab and we've seen some improvement with him, his done programming to help teach him how to react differently, but I think he needs to get a follow up on his brain injury, since the technology from 30 years ago has come a long way......he does much better now that his focusing on work , but even his job suffers if he has a rage fit, he wont go to work or call his boss, I only see him as a mentally Emotionally Disabled person who needs his family, because his a complete mess when were hone and his left alone .... I only can encourage him to get testing done on his brain, and see where he is 31 years later, with memory, emotional and physical aspects of his brain, Im really interested, I just hope he agrees to see a doctor for his brain soon, Good luck to you and your familys dealing with TBI, wish nothing but the best for all you sufferers 😊

We were told the same thing about back to work in 6 weeks but my husband had double vision following surgery and now all of the above. He went back to work too soon and is now out of work again. Ugh.

I am a brain tumor survivor, now disabled. Seek neuropsychological testing. You may have to go on disability.

Nice to find an explanation to my mood changes. Had a cavernous hemangioma removed (right frontal lobe). 3 weeks later infection in the head "bone flap removal" 7 months later cranial plate installed. All this to stop grand mal seizures, they came back. Have not done well since. Problem keeping a job, impulsive behavior, depression. Doctor said no problem quick surgery, back to work 6 weeks.

Oh man, where do I start, my brain injuries are many, a series of sports related concussions over many years, a few black out falls. And then the discovery of a brain tumor, non cancerous, yet in a very critical area of the brain. Surgery followed and a week after I suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, leading to a week of comatose.

I would spend the next 6-8 weeks getting inpatient treatment and a lot of out patient treatment would follow. While all this sounds scary, and it was, I was in no way prepared for life following these events, after taking a fall at home (black out), i had hit my head on a cast iron bathtub, this was only 3-4 months after all the surgery stuff. It's like every possible symptom of PTSD and PCS were taking over my life, and I was not aware of what any of those things were until seeing a series of specialists.

It took a few years until I could comfortably function at work( I am a municiple arborist.) Yet even after all of these years since, I seem to be stuck with many behavioural challenges, some of which have caused problems with my supervisors and co-workers. I so wish not to be this difficult, as I was never that person before. So I am in ongoing therapy, with both medicine and a psychiatrist. 

While I love quiet time, with the dogs and my wife, the challenges of work are at times quite overwhelming.

I have a daughter that had a brain injury due to being in a abusive relationship she's now in a rehabilitation center and wants to come home but can't because she not doing the therapy and is refusing to and throwing tantrums what do I do?

Got a TBI from a car accident in Sept 97. The accident was caused by a female passenger who pulled the steering wheel b/c we were having a fight. Spent 5 weeks in the hospital and months in outpatient care. Went back to work after 6 months and things appeared to be getting better. That was short lived and my mental problems returned with a vengeance.

I feel I am starting to improve I'm sitting up more and longer there was a time I couldn't do that!

I am 41 yrs old & 8 years post severe TBI and I cannot control my anger or sadness, I'm all over the place! Up and down, up and down.....I feel like but a shell of my former self. Mood stabilizers do not help when you have a lot of damage and millions of brain cells killed off. I'm just supposed to sit here until I rot I suppose. Too chicken s$&t to off myself.....

Do most tbi patients lose their temper with the spouse more than anyone else? Most people don't see the bad side of this person?

My dear friend had a brain bleed, I feel like I have lost a friend, we can no longer discuss anything, he simply give me short replies mostly, things like; its ok, very interesting, or no answer at all.  He does not answer mail, or calls without causing me to feel like he is not really there and seems to be not listening to anything I say.  It is going on 10 months since his brain surgery, I am concerned if he will stay this way.  Lost a dear friend and just cannot deal with the changes in his personality and behavior.  Sad in LA

I suffered a TBI back on the 10/6/2011 so just over 4yrs ago I was in a near fatal single vehicle car accident. I still suffer problems with my eyes the later it becomes in the night (blurry vision) I need to close 1 eye so I can see straight, I also have major mood swings happy 1minute then cranky the next.. I don't know what I should do, will this correct itself or do I need to take meds to help calm myself?? Please help it's killing..

In 2009 I was in 3 separate car accidents, all resulting in my head spidering the windshields. The last one was by far the worst. I do not remember what caused me to black out but all I remember was having no sight and feeling as if I was on a bucking bull as I crashed off of a bridge. No one was on the road and I'm not sure how long I was unconscious before I climbed out the window into the shallow part of the river. I felt like a zombie walking down the road. Officers finally showed up, no one would stop for me but at least they called the cops to help. I THOUGHT I had come out of it with only a fractured wrist and being the hard *ss "shake it off" type, I did not go to the hospital. EVERYTHING CHANGED AFTER THAT POINT. Before I was CONFIDENT, CARE FREE, ON TOP OF THE WORLD HAPPY. THINGS CAME SO EASILY, I was quick witted and never ran out of things to say. After the wreck, I became someone I don't recognize.. shy, nervous, avoidant, overly self conscious, awkward, sexually avoidant, tongue tied. I had to try too hard to be" myself" which does not work. I became depressed and anxious and MISERABLE. It's been right at 6 years since it happened and not much has changed. I've learned to "play my role", I guess you could say because I don't know wth else to call feeling as if I've been dehumanized, a little better but, especially around family who remembered the old me, it feels like part of me is brain dead and they don't understand why. My memory is shot. My long term memory is terrible. My childhood/teenage memories are few and far in between.. I remember people and places for the most part but I don't actually have many MEMORIES at all.. its all a blur. I am a rollercoaster of emotions all the time. I feel like it's mainly frustration.. maybe having both depression and anxiety, maybe not yet being able to accept the loss of myself, maybe it's from the damage to my brain, I don't know. All I know is I snap too easily, I cry too much, and my whole perspective is wrecked by it all. Not only have I dealt with what I feel like is the loss of myself, but I also have temporal lobe epilepsy like episodes. They come on as a deja vu like aura that will last 15-30 seconds but after I have no idea what the aura was about and I get a rising feeling in my gut and my body is just numb but unsettled feeling for a few minutes after. It used to be much less frequent but in the past year they've started happening a few times a week. Some aren't full on though, now that they're more constant, some are like teasers.. that sinking, familiar feeling will come on like a spurt then vanish almost like a warning. Those, just leave me in suspense more than anything. Other than that, I get terrible tension headaches. It's hell but I'm still here and I still manage. Coping is one hell of a task though.

I was a professional intelligent talented woman before the TBI 15yrs ago. You can grind your way through all the hard physical challenges, the exhausting medical stuff and dehumanizing insurance interactions that never stop, the money struggles and daily frustrations of keeping house when you struggle to get anything done. You can be loved, admired for your skills, and ability to survive so much. But you know what, the devastating part is that I can wreck my relationship with friends and family, but especially our wider community who don't understand or even see the TBI, by my Jekyll and Hyde bulldog outbursts over the stupidest things, in the most inappropriate places. Later with insight I'll understand, try to apologize and make amends.. but I can't take away the grief, broken trust and wariness. 

I was assaulted at work. Punched repeatedly in the temple ,jaw, neck. And shoved in a corner. Just being a manager approaching a employer about doing her job. An unstable woman. Conversation got heated. Before I knew it my life had stopped. 32 years in a practice. Talk about. Career over. No memory of my dental knowledge. Now what..

I am 18 years old, turning 19 years this July. I wrestled all four years of high school and competed through some minor concussions. When I arrived at school for my first semester of college, I decided to join the Men's Rugby Club. During one our games, I was running full speed towards an opposing player to clear him out (put him on his ass). Right before impact, he lowered his head as he attempted to steal the ball from my tackled teammate. I collided with him head to head. I continued to play and in the next game I was elbowed in the temple. What resulted was 3 days in bed during fall break with a constant massive headache. I felt like I could not speak properly because I kept forgetting what I was going to say. Everything was just too loud or too bright. It just sucked. Ever since I have noticed frequent mood swings and a "short fuse". I have also noticed that the smallest of things cause me to become irritated. I often get upset, whether its angry or sad, and end up asking myself "what is actually wrong?" and will either blame it on pointless things and get myself all worked up, or I will respond saying "I honestly don't know". After reading this article, it all makes sense. 

11 yrs post tbi & my moods are still all over.

I am currently 15 1/2 years post brain injury after suffering a stroke during brain surgery in the middle of my brain near the areas that govern emotion and cognition and was finally diagnosed with PBA after thinking I was going crazy.  What a relief that this is an actual problem and not some sort of personality defect that I have had all along that no one told me about.

I love the comment about that was the old me now we have to start out with a new me it is mainly my children that I wish you could understand. thanks Julie

In 2013 in October I got a bad concussion from my last soccer game. I have had 2 minor concussions in previous years from soccer but this one was the worst. I was out of sports and activity for a whole year. Just this past September and October I was in and out of the neurologist office. I took a neurophysc test and got a Mri on my brain because I was still experiencing symptoms and also minor memory loss as well as other things. Everything came back good but I also feel as if I get very angry at little things or for no reason at all. I think things that I would never have thought of before this, such as wanting to harm myself to feel better(not cutting) which I do not do by the way or wanting to hit or break things to let the anger out or even just sit there and cry for no reason. My emotions are a roller coaster and I dont know how to control them as much. The doctors can't find anything but I know there are things still wrong with me. I have random headaches, neck pain, constant ringing ears, and my eyes randomly move or flicker. It's weird and I don't want to be put on meds because I don't want to get addicted to them or feel like I need them. That's always been a fear of mine. I've been suggested to go to physical therapy but that just helps with neck problems and getting my memory and other skills close to where they were. I know there are others out there that are way worse than me and have other problems so I try not to complain about it. The one thing that has helped me is positivity and a complete outlook on things. -Angela

I had an accident whilst riding my bicycle 2 years ago. I hit a parked car and was thrown to the ground hitting my head on the pavement, I wasn't wearing my helmet. I suffered 3 cracks to my skull , a front lobe damage injury was found, I was transferred to hospital, luckily after observation my neurosurgeon decided not to operate. My neurosurgeon stated how very lucky I was that the injury wasn't worse however I've been suffering from anxiety in my business, I'm always trying to find solutions to solve problems that may occur. I have real difficulty in dealing with only 3 or 4 tasks to do when I used to thrive on a full page of issues. I don't seem to have a normal mood level anymore, it's either happy or sad, there seems to be no level. I've put some of these symptoms down to age, I'm now 43 but a good friend of mine often talks about how different I was before the accident. I suffer from dizziness when I suddenly get up from sitting or lying down. Has anyone else had similar effects ? Steve 

I had a horrible brain injury ending my freshman year of high school (June 2010). I'm now 19 years old. Everything changed after it. I just never felt like the same kid. Feel like it gets better but worse every year.

Banged my head 20 years ago in a car accident and now still unemployed. I noticed the changes and told my relatives that the old me had "died" and they should deal with the new me who "survived." Life is hard but I need to keep striving despite being injured for life.

Thank you I've had a brain I jury and that was well put

My mum had a few drinks and went out for a meal with my auntie and her drink got spiked she fell and banged her head which knocked her out m, she woke up in hospital the next day. Today she got angry over something that wouldn't normally annoy her, she ended up throwing things at me which she would never normally do either, I'm really worried I know it doesn't sound like something to worry about but it isn't like her at all, please help

In 2006, I was 28 yrs old and in my last year of my BSN 4 year nursing degree. My husban at the time was driving when we were hit head on by a semi w/out a trailer on the back. I was airlifted from a field right next to us and a doctor was in the line of traffic. I experience all these, except I have not seen one about medication. I have all kinds of problems: memory, personality, not being a responsible adult, etc. The one that scares me the most is that my bran is not registering medications. They have no effect on me. I have complained to doctors and seeked help. Like you guys say tho, they just look at you in disbelief oor ike your crazy. I can take anything that normal people take with no effect. I have been shot up with pain medication in the hospital for kidney stones and my family think I would be stoned and I was straight and narrow as could be. Only time this has not happened is in surgery. I can take benadryl, something that I normally had to take before for severe allergies. It use to knock me out it no longer does that. I have never did drugs or been on drugs but when I noticed that my medicine was not helping I got scared and paranoid of course.   Pain medicine did not help me so I was eating more and more. I began having blood pressure problems because of the pain and because the pain medication was not helping me. By the way I was drug free before and came home to begin dealing with chronic pain and was prescribed morphine and perkocets. When they were not helping I became paranoid about getting addicted to them and being in chronic pain and I never slept because of insomnia, but at the time thought it was all the pain meds too. I also had 3 boys to raise alone ages 1, 2, and 7. I divorced and met my husband who I have now. We have had a long winding road but we have stuck it out and held in there. He is my "human savior." He balances me out and helps me thru all my chaos. He is very patient and kind, but we have had many obstacles, he is also 5 years younger than I... When I met him he to me to stop the pain meds and try marijuana. It is the only drug I take besides my recent hormone medication from having a total hysterectomy. I am now 36 years old, while most of the time acting out as a young teenage girl. I have managed to keep and raise my 3 boys, but it is not getting no easier. Just harder and harder. I get no improvement with any meds. At one point I looked like a walking pharmacy at the age of 28, 27, 29! Finally I gave up and never went back to a doctor, psychiatrist, etc for my TBI because none of them believed me.... Does anyone else have this problem with medication not working? I havent touched a pain pill since like the end of 07, but could take a OPANA or OXYCOTIN 80 and it does nothing. I can get a shot of demoral or the other one cant remember the name and it does not have no effect. Dont get sleepy, nothing. I couldnt get high off the drug even if I wanted to or any of the others. It scares me tho because I am afraid my brain is not accepting signals or signaling them. What if I could have a heart attack or something and not even know it and the docs just will not listen at all. We are surrounded by many meth users and druggies, but I have never lived that life, but I was surrounded by it and know it all to well.

I am happy with marijuana as my treatment. It helps tremendously with all the symptoms of PTSD and the TBI! Best therapeutic natural drug that God ever gave us... to bad it is still not legal in all the states for treatment in what we all have in this group. You can get on with daily functions so much easier. 

Nov, 2011, my son's wife left him after 20 yrs. marriage, in April 2012, our son was on the way to work on a motor scooter when he was hit from behind ending up with Severe Brain Trauma.  For a year he could not drive, then he more than anything he wanted a job.  He did not want to be on disability.  He had lost two houses, two kids, a wife, his job and his personal property to his wife after she put a protective order on him.  He remembered that after his TBI, but today I am told he is in jail for grabbing his girlfriends arms and bruising them.  He has been trying and trying to find a job and got more and more depressed.  So I guess he was getting more and more irritable and depressed.  Is this a problem for other TBI - not being able to find a job?

Hi there - I went searching, again, today after crying and crying over how different my son is. After some good progress, his moodiness and meaness overwhelmed me. I am so sorry for what you are going through. My son has had multiple frontal lobe concussions and the last four years have been so hard. I have found help and support in researching, researching, and reading, reading, TON'S. Most states are way behind on TBI, especially those 15 - 20%/that have lasting effects after "mild"/TBI. My journey has led me to mount sanai school of medicine's brain injury research.http://icahn.mssm.edu/research/centers/brain-injury-research-center-of-mount-sinai. I have called and also emailed.back and forth with one of the leading doctors. He referred me to an expert near us, Dr. Ronald Ruff. My son has been seeing him for almost a year. The brain injury association has also been immensely helpful in resources, connections, and advice http://www.biausa.org. they should be able to give information about a TBI support group. My biggest of advice is to get in contact with those that understand because it's so foreign and most not living it have no idea. Those that live in this world get it. Also, I'm not sure how spiritual you are, but I have spent many a.morning in the shower, on my knees crying out to and praying to God which has helped immensely. Part of the symptoms is not recognizing they need help. Also, besides the brain being injured and reacting so differently, often our loved ones are acting out due to the stress, shame and confusion they feel about not being able to make sense of their deficits, which are likely more than the behaviors being exhibited - such as fatigue (I learned from Dr. Ruff that most that have suffered a concussion are more tired and fatigued - many for a long, long time- in a way that really taxes them mentally, emotionally, and physically), memory, sensory overload (which you've mentioned), difficulty with attention, difficulty with the abstract, difficulty with self awareness, and more. My best to you and your family.

My Husband suffered a frontal lobe tbi three years ago now, tried to go back to work the next day which made it so much worse, and now he is getting better physically, the dizziness, blurred vision, better, but the smells, sounds and TOTAL LACK OF EMPATHY is worse? The kids handle it better than I do,I find myself crying all the time because although I know this isn't him,it'sthe injury, in reality it is him, the new him after tbi, and i have to learn to live with it, the temper flares, the mean comments, the my way or the highway mindset, it's so hard. He didn't used to be so mean, unsympathetic, he was kind, generous,a truly sweet man. But this injury has changed him. He doesn't believe in therapy or doctors for medication so thats out, now I'm depressed and have to figure out how live with this. At times he is how he used to be, then he will yell at me for how I cook, when it's the same way I've cooked for ten years. His sense of smell is so overly sensitive now that I can't wear any perfume, have to use just water to clean, he can't handle any noise, so many changes, he very rarely will go out in public now....is anyone else going through this and where do we turn?

May I suggest seeing a NEUROpsychologist... This kind of psychologist will give you a better understanding of how the brain works and how your injury will effect you and your loved ones. Just any psychologist or counselor will not have an understanding of your situation and will treat you as if you have no TBI

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