Anxiety disorders are one of the more common complications that can develop after a traumatic brain injury. There has been some controversy over whether or not the anxiety develops as a result of biological changes to the brain, or from psychological changes due to life adjustment after the injury. Research has shown that anxiety is related to specific brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, but less is known about the mechanisms of anxiety that develops after a traumatic brain injury.
A recent animal study found that the development of anxiety after a traumatic brain injury was related to significantly fewer neural cells in the prefrontal lobe. In addition, traumatic brain injury changes the way the brain produces neurotransmitters that are related to the regulation of emotion and fear. This increased risk of anxiety may be even more pronounced in the developing brains of children.
Baykara B, Cetin F, Baykara B, et al. Anxiety caused by traumatic brain injury correlates to decreased prefrontal cortex VEGD immunoreactivity and neuron density in immature rats. Turkish Neurosurgery. (April 2012).