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Traumatic Brain Injury - TBI and PTSD

Posted by Robert T. Karns | Oct 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Many traumatic brain injury survivors suffer not only from the effects of the brain injury but also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Therefore, the trauma that causes the TBI also causes PTSD.

Early on it was believed that trauma causing traumatic brain injury could not also cause post-traumatic stress disorder as it was believed that the types of amnesia that the traumatic brain injury can cause would preclude suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies now show that post-traumatic stress disorder can develop following mild traumatic brain injury and also following severe traumatic brain injury.

TBI symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Sensory problems such as blurred vision, ringing in ears, sensitivity to light or sound
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Mood swings
  • Depression or anxiety

PTSD symptoms:

  • Repeated memories of the life-threatening event
  • Flashbacks and reliving the event
  • Avoidance of people or places that are reminders of the event
  • Detachment from people
  • Shame about what happened
  • Survivor guilt
  • Hypervigilance

Symptoms and differences:

  • Memory
    • TBI - Interruption in memory of what went on just before or just after the injury; problems with memory thereafter including problems with concentration and cognitive difficulties
    • PTSD - Being plagued and haunted by unwanted memories of what happened, causing the victim to relive the injury including having nightmares about it.
  • Sleep
    • TBI - Sleep disorders are common after TBI including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and interrupting normal sleep patterns.
    • PTSD - Terrible nightmares and flashbacks while sleeping causing the victim to wake up.
  • Isolation
    • TBI - Due to the injury, loss of friends and co-workers leading to social isolation.
    • PTSD - Isolation is self imposed by the victim as it is too difficult to interact with people.
  • Emotions
    • TBI - Emotional lability, mood swings
    • PTSD - Emotional numbness and emotional shutdown
  • Fatigue
    • TBI - Continuing fatigue due to the TBI
    • PTSD - The symptoms of PTSD make it difficult to get a full night sleep resulting in fatigue, feeling wrung out, temper shortened, frustration.
  • Depression and Anxiety
    • TBI - Depression and anxiety can result from TBI.
    • PTSD - Depression can result from PTSD however anxiety is much more severe and can cause feelings of extreme panic and stress.
  • Anger
    • TBI - Damage to the frontal lobes of the brain can cause volatile behavior.
    • PTSD - Physical aggression is increased with PTSD.

About the Author

Robert T. Karns

Founding Attorney


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