LoveYourBrain Tip: Recognize Emotional Changes




Following last week’s tip about returning to activity after a concussion, this week’s post delves into the emotional impacts of concussion. As with any injury, symptoms will vary widely between individuals. Emotional and behavioral changes are present for many people following a concussion, and should be shared with their doctor.  Recognizing and understanding these symptoms may be key to helping yourself or a loved one during this trying experience.

Emotional and behavioral changes following a concussion can include sadness, apathy, irritability, nervousness, and feelings of loss of self. The person with a concussion may experience mood swings and emotional reactions that are not typical for that individual. It is important to understand that these symptoms could be related to the brain injury and that there is a need for education for both the individual with the concussion and the support system. Assisting individuals who are struggling emotionally could include understanding and validating how this concussion has impacted their life, as well as a generous offering of encouragement, compassion, and empathy.   

In addition to the physiological changes in the brain, the stress of limiting activities and social interactions can impact mood. During the healing process, there should be a delicate balance of rest and activity, along with individualized education and support that promote emotional wellness. A support system of people willing to ask and talk about mood and emotions can play a significant role in maintaining sense of self and resilience while healing.

Continue to educate yourself and others to best understand the physical, cognitive and emotional impacts of injury...and then you can take the needed steps to nurture the brain and support the healing process!

Sarah is a Speech Therapist who specializes in supporting students returning to school following acquired brain injuries. She is also a board member of Camp Cranium, a camp for school-aged children with brain injury, in Pennsylvania. She is contributing this tip as part of Better Hearing and Speech Month.