Emotional Changes Related to Traumatic Brain Injuries

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The effects of a traumatic brain injury can be substantial and lifelong. Brain injuries are some of the most severe injuries that the human body can sustain. In the U.S., traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and disability. Nearly 5.3 million people in the U.S. live with TBI-related disabilities, and it accounts for nearly 30% of all injury-related deaths


As many can imagine, the physical changes after sustaining a traumatic brain injury can be devastating for patients. Many will have lifelong disabilities including paralysis, spasticity, vision problems, and loss of motor functions.


Additionally, the emotional changes that a person experiences after a TBI can be just as debilitating as physical ones. It can affect one’s cognitive, emotional, and psychological abilities.

How Traumatic Brain Injuries Affect The Brain

Traumatic brain injuries occur due to a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. When this happens, the brain is either directly impacted by the trauma or is essentially rattled within the skull, causing damage to the brain internally.


Many times, traumatic brain injuries cause damage to the temporal lobe, the part of the brain that controls emotion and the ability to cope with feelings. When this happens, a person can have difficulty controlling emotional impulses and making sound decisions.


Many TBIs are sustained from a severe or traumatic accident, such as a car crash, assault, or slip and fall. Essentially, a person with a traumatic brain injury is dealing with two types of emotional changes: one regarding the physical and chemical change of their brain from the physical injury and the other regarding the stress that naturally occurs after a traumatic experience.

Anxiety and PTSD

Some survivors of traumatic events can develop post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD occurs after traumatic events in which a person suffers from memories of their ordeal as well as physical and emotional symptoms. A person with PTSD will have trouble perceiving and reacting to situations and constantly have feelings of stress, fear, and anxiety from their accident.


In addition, some with TBIs develop anxiety disorders following their accident. This can be caused by the accident, but also by the seemingly added pressures of everyday life. What once was easy or mundane is now extremely difficult or seemingly impossible. Many survivors put pressure on themselves to go back to work because of financial burdens, which can be debilitating and severely lower a person’s quality of life.


It’s normal to feel sad after a scary or sad event. However, those who go through traumatic accidents and sustain traumatic brain injuries may feel much more than this. Over 50% of those with TBIs suffer from depression in the first year following their injury. This can be onset by a number of reasons:

  • Depression can arise as a person adjusts to a new disability or new means of living. This can be hard on anyone, but knowing your disability is potentially permanent can be harrowing.

  • Some people are involved in accidents in which their loved ones are also injured or killed. This can leave feelings of survivors guilt or guilt that the accident occurred at all.

  • Other people experience depression due to the physical change in the brain that changes the way people feel and express their emotions.


Common symptoms of depression in those with traumatic brain injuries include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns

  • Feelings of worthlessness

  • Agitation

  • Excessive crying

  • Guilt or fear

Mood Swings

Mood swings and personality changes are not uncommon for those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Mood swings are caused by a variety of factors. Many with TBIs feel misunderstood, frustrated, and stressed. It can also be difficult to go from being completely independent to now relying on family members to help you with daily functions.


TBIs also change the way one is able to express emotion. Instead of being able to verbally express their feelings, one might have a quick or violent temper. It can be difficult for both the individual going through this as well as their friends and family who are trying to help.

Lifting the Burden of a Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries can be devastating to both the individual that sustained the injury as well as their friends and family members. Activities that might be enjoyable or even possible before the injury may not be so anymore.


What can be worse is when you or your loved one is unable to go back to work or enjoy their life because of financial burdens. No one should have to live this way.


It’s important to remember that emotional injuries are just as real as physical injuries, and those who suffer from them can be affected financially. If the brain injury was sustained due to someone else’s negligence, the financial burden should not fall on you.


If this situation applies to you, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Our principal attorney, Randall Scarlett, has over 20 years helping traumatic brain injury victims and their families through some of the toughest times in their lives.


Traumatic brain injuries can be lifelong financial burdens. While we understand that every case is different, we uphold that we will fight long and hard to get these victims and their families the compensation they justly deserve.


Contact Scarlett Law Group at (415) 688-2176 for compassionate counsel.

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