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Traumatic Brain Injury - Mood Disorders

Robert Karns

Traumatic brain injury resulting in persistent post-concussive symptoms can lead to significant mood disorders in victims with this injury. Persistent symptoms caused by this type of injury cause continuing mood disorders including anxiety, depression and irritability.

These persistent symptoms including continuing cognitive problems, concentration problems, memory problems, difficulty completing tasks or multitasking, difficulty getting along with others, and physical pain including headaches and muscle pain. When these symptoms persist and continue, mood disorders can occur.

  • Anxiety - A traumatic brain injury is a life altering injury that can cause anxiety and stress. Symptoms of anxiety can be fear and worry and can cause difficulty sleeping, and lead to the aggravation of existing problems such as difficulty concentrating, memory problems, difficulty completing tasks and difficulty multitasking. Anxiety can lead to panic attacks and confusion. The anxiety can cause fear including worrying about the future, economic worries or an inability to interact with people or go out socially.
  • Depression - The continuing symptoms can cause depression characterized by feelings of sadness, despair and discouragement. Sadness lasting a long time can cause a loss of enjoyment in all activities leading to major depression. Other symptoms in addition to sadness can include feelings of worthlessness or guilt, loss of concentration, decreased energy, low thinking, appetite loss and sleep problems.
  • Irritability - Irritability and anger are common following a traumatic brain injury. Often times family members and loved ones of the person with a traumatic brain injury will state "he blows up at the slightest thing" or "she has zero frustration tolerance". Irritability and anger result as it is more difficult for the person suffering from a traumatic brain injury to slow or stop emotional responses to things. As a result of not being able to curtail the emotional responses to problems, severe irritability can occur. In addition, irritability and anger can arise from the frustrations of not being able to multitask, concentrate or do things that the injured person could do prior to the brain injury.

It is therefore important for the person suffering from a traumatic brain injury with resulting mood disorders to consult a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist in order that the proper treatment and medication can be prescribed to help with the improvement of the quality of life.


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