From sports-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents to slips, trips and falls, recent research shows that even a minor concussion may result in potentially debilitating mental and/or emotional disorders.
According to the National Institutes of Health, around 1 in 5 individuals who experience even relatively mild head trauma are at greater risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, anxiety or other mental health issues.
Issues with cognition and decision-making
Following a head injury, individuals may have trouble staying focused and processing their thoughts. Trauma may lead to issues with memory, attention span and the ability to concentrate as well as difficulty with even simple multitasking, planning or problem-solving situations.
Emotional and behavioral changes
Brain injuries may also cause significant changes in behavior and emotional state. Those who have experienced trauma may find it difficult to maintain self-control, leading to uncharacteristic verbal or physical outbursts.
Friends and family members may notice emotional changes, including depression, irritability, anxiety, insomnia or unexplained mood swings. Affected individuals may also develop a lack of empathy for others.
In some cases, a traumatic brain injury may lead to trouble with communication. People who have experienced head trauma may find it difficult to understand spoken or written words, and they may have trouble speaking or writing themselves.
Affected individuals may also feel challenged or frozen when participating in social situations. Those with previous head trauma may be unable to follow a conversation and may have difficulty understanding nonverbal signals.
Head injuries frequently cause temporary or permanent problems with the brain’s ability to process sensory information. Potential symptoms include impaired hand-eye coordination, trouble with balance or dizziness, persistent ringing in the ears or skin tingling, pain or itching.
The brain is a sensitive and complex organ. The effects of even minor trauma may take days or even months to become apparent. That is especially true of mental and emotional issues. After a head injury, it is essential to monitor both physical and mental wellbeing.