LoveYourBrain Tip: Emotional Changes Following TBI





Emotional and behavioral changes following TBI are common and perhaps some of the most challenging consequences of injury due to their impact on self control and social interactions, as well as their “invisible” nature. Emotional changes may be seen across all degrees of injury (concussion to severe TBI) and present at different levels of intensity, depending on multiple factors:

  • Location and degree of damage to the brain
  • Pre-injury characteristics and personal trait
  • Amount of time after injury (different characteristics at different stages of healing
  • Environmental factors, including both supports and stressors

Though every person, injury and set of circumstances differ, it is essential for everyone involved in the care of someone with a TBI to be aware of changes that commonly occur. Awareness may help with early identification of difficulties, increased understanding of their relationship to injury, and will hopefully promote a more positive and compassionate approach to improvement.

Common Emotional and Behavioral Changes To Be Aware Of:

  • Decreased insight and denial of deficits (physical, cognitive or emotional)
  • Impulsivity, decreased judgment, decreased reasoning
  • Aggression and agitation (low frustration tolerance, “short temper”)
  • Decreased mood, flat affect, apathy, decreased initiation
  • Decreased self control (physical or verbal, i.e, “no filter”)

If you have observed any concerning changes following an injury, it is important that you understand the connection to injury and know that help is available. As with any component of rehabilitation or healing, techniques for addressing these areas must be individualized and will take time. Make your concerns known to your physician, rehab team, family or other wellness practitioners. Then work as a team to understand the factors involved in these behaviors while working on a positive path forward.