Psychiatric Issues After Brain Injury

A brain injury often causes a lot of psychiatric problems following the injury because the brain is functioning so differently than it was before. So the person who has a brain injury understands that their brain isn't doing what it used to and so they have this sort of odd relationship because they know their functioning is a part of who they are, and yet many of them are able to recall what they had. So there is a lot of work that goes on post brain injury on the therapy side of things where people have to begin to cope with the implications of the changes that have happened to them. A lot of times--most of the time the changes are adverse, something they don't want to have happened to them, and so it's very reasonable to become depressed and deeply saddened. In addition to that, the brain--you know--a healthy brain has a lot of controls in place to help us function throughout the day, and when some of those controls are impaired, for example, our ability to tune out stimulation, then you can imagine how you might exhibit signs that seem more psychiatric, like you might be more frustrated or quick to anger, when in actuality what is happening to you is that you're constantly bombarded by stimulation that you can't tune out. So, the good therapist is someone who will be aware of the cognitive issues in brain injury and also aware that the person is a human with emotions that is grappling with the most complex injury that they can have. So it's an unfortunate but common side effect to have psychiatric issues following a brain injury.

Learning patience and acceptance of self after a TBI can be incredibly painful. It takes time and fortitude.

Michael Paul Mason

Michael Paul Mason is the founding editor of This Land, a monthly magazine based in Tulsa. Mason's first book, Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath, is an exploration into the harsh realities endured by people with brain injury. 

Posted on BrainLine October 28, 2010

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Brian King, BrainLine.

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