Surprising Ways Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Change Someone

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Just like no two people are alike, no two traumatic brain injuries are ever exactly the same. But traumatic brain injuries do share some common symptoms, and unfortunately, one of them includes permanent changes. Luckily about 80% of traumatic brain injuries are mild, so the side effects will either be temporary or mild themselves. But after someone has suffered an injury to the brain, whether it be from sports or an auto or other accident, permanent brain changes are certainly possible. Sometimes this will not affect their behavior, but more often than not, it does.

Anyone who suffers a traumatic brain injury should look into a Newport Beach Psychiatrist. A psychiatrist who has been trained in brain trauma treatment can help with the physical and emotional adjustment that may be needed to resume a normal life. Some changes are to be expected, such as mood swings or difficulty controlling emotions. But there are some surprising changes that some people undergo that might come as a surprise to both the survivor and his or her family members.

Possible ways traumatic brain injuries can change people include:


Some sadness after an injury is to be expected, especially such a serious disruption to a person’s life. Feelings of sadness and frustration after a brain injury are common. But some people’s sadness lingers and turns into depression. Depression can arise if the person struggles to adjust to the temporary and permanent changes after the injury. Symptoms of depression include feeling worthless, changes in sleep and appetite, loss of interest in common activities, feeling tired all the time, difficulty concentrating and withdrawing from social activities.

A healthy diet and aerobic exercise, even just short walks, can help with depression. But the injured person should also seek out a Newport Beach psychiatrist to find out if antidepressant medication is necessary. Sometimes counseling alone is enough to help the person beat depression, but it’s best to get a professional opinion regarding medication.


Anxiety is a feeling of fear or nervousness that is out of proportion to the situation. Some people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury could face a sudden onset of of anxiety that can be overwhelming, even being hit with random panic attacks. Sometimes the situation that caused the injury can replay in the person’s mind, causing the reaction. Or, situations that require more focus than the injured person is capable of can cause it. While there are some natural remedies to ease anxiety, the person should always seek out professional help. Psychotherapy and sometimes medication are needed to help the person learn to cope.

Lack of Empathy

Sadly, some people show a noticeable lack of empathy after suffering from a brain injury. Empathy is the quality that allows humans to feel and understand what others are experiencing, and it connects people and helps bind societies together. Some studies have indicated that about 31% of people who suffer a brain injury will also suffer from some degree of a lower ability to empathize with others.

Since moodiness and mood changes are to be expected after a brain injury, a lack of empathy might seem like an understandable side effect. But it can also be hard to adjust to, especially for the spouse or children of the injured person. And while natural empathy cannot be learned, sometimes this effect is temporary. If the injured person can recognize the behavior, he or she can work to change it.

Lack of Motivation

Sometimes a traumatic brain injury can turn an energetic, driven person into an unmotivated individual. Usually, this is a side effect of another symptom, such as depression. The injured person may have realized that life will never be the same or might be harboring some unresolved guilt or other emotions regarding the circumstances that led to the injury. Some situational lethargy is to be expected, and sometimes it goes away on its own.

A lack of motivation could also be a side effect of the brain injury itself. Parts of the brain are responsible for alertness and initiation of activity. Frontal lobe involvement could also make it difficult for someone to engage in activities. If those parts of the brain were injured, the person could remain less motivated even if he or she has emotionally healed. Counseling with a trained therapist can help the injured person rebuild self-confidence.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Since traumatic brain injury occurs from a sudden jolt or blow to the head, a traumatic situation like an accident or fall is usually involved. Therefore, PTSD is a naturally occurring symptom after the trauma.

PTSD can take the injured people by surprise. They might think they have recovered only to be hit with a flashback or sudden panic attack. This is scary, but luckily, effective PTSD treatment does exist. Seeking professional help and attending group therapy sessions with others who have been through similar situations can help people overcome their PTSD and resume a normal life.