Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are life-altering events that can bring about changes in a person. Even seemingly normal reactions may grow to become unwieldy or frustrating as time goes on.
Along with physical complications, a TBI’s emotional transformations can be complex and profound, affecting various aspects of a person’s life.
One of the most striking changes after a TBI is the emotional rollercoaster that individuals often experience. Previously stable emotions can become erratic, with mood swings becoming the norm.
A person who was once calm and collected may now find themselves easily agitated or even experiencing bouts of intense anger or sadness. This emotional turbulence can be challenging for both the individual and their loved ones to navigate.
Following a TBI, irritability tends to rise to the forefront of a person’s mind. Even minor inconveniences or frustrations can trigger outbursts of anger or irritability that were previously uncharacteristic.
Considering agitation and aggression show up in 70% of post-TBI patients, according to the National Library of Medicine, signs of anger after this injury need close attention. This heightened irritability can strain relationships and make daily interactions more challenging.
Another common emotional shift post-TBI is more anxiety. Individuals may become more apprehensive about their future, health and overall well-being. This heightened anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms like restlessness, trembling or trouble sleeping, further compounding the challenges of recovery.
Decreased emotional regulation
A TBI often impairs a person’s ability to regulate their emotions effectively. This means that individuals may find it challenging to control their emotional responses to various situations. Simple tasks, such as managing frustration or disappointment, can become huge hurdles.
Impaired social interactions
Attitude and emotional changes can profoundly impact a person’s ability to engage in social interactions. Some individuals may become withdrawn, avoiding social situations due to anxiety or fear of emotional outbursts. Others may struggle with understanding social cues, leading to misunderstandings and strained relationships.
After a TBI, an individual’s self-perception can undergo serious changes. They may grapple with feelings of inadequacy, diminished self-esteem or a sense of lost identity. These shifts can be particularly challenging as they force individuals to redefine who they are in the context of their new reality.
With the right support, individuals can learn to cope and adapt to their new emotional reality. This change can ultimately improve their quality of life post-TBI.