Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Emotional Distress on the Brain? 6 Psychological Impacts of Traumatic Brain Injury

Emotional Distress on the Brain? 6 Psychological Impacts of Traumatic Brain Injury

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Experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can put the body through a great deal of physical pain and distress. But rarely do we acknowledge the emotional and mental issues that can arise, especially over time.

Rehabilitation, physical pain, healthcare fees, and lengthy legal issues can add to the emotional burden of coping with a traumatic brain injury. Fortunately, hiring a competent and compassionate lawyer like this who specialises in traumatic brain injury can lighten the load of emotional distress. 

To heal these physical and emotional wounds, understand what potential psychological impacts individuals with a TBI may have to deal with, whether you’ve sustained one yourself or have a loved one who has.


Anxiety typically evokes a feeling of pressing fear and nervousness and can often arise without us knowing why. It can come as a fear of being criticized, making mistakes, or an imminent threat to your safety.

Sudden onsets of anxiety within stressful situations can result in panic attacks that become so debilitating that they have no control or awareness of their surroundings. Victims of PTSD (posttraumatic stress syndrome) may think they are reliving the traumatic experience that caused the injury.


Depression can present itself as feelings of prolonged sadness as a result of their condition or recovery process. Individuals may become overwhelmed by even the smallest efforts and feel a sense of worthlessness.

Other symptoms include sleeping for long periods, changes in appetite like under-eating or overeating, withdrawing from others, apathy, or suicidal thoughts.

Temper outbursts and irritability

TBI can often result in temper outbursts and heightened irritability. The injured individual may feel the constant urge to yell or even become violent when in stressful situations.

These frequent outbursts are generally a result of the injured brain’s inability to control emotional expression. A loss of independence and frustration may also bring on these behaviours.

Mood swings or emotional instability

With the inability to control emotional expression comes mood swings and emotional instability. TBI can sometimes cause sudden episodes of crying or laughing. Injured individuals may also have difficulty assigning the correct emotional responses to a particular situation. In these cases, TBI sufferers may find themselves laughing at a sad story.

Fortunately, this symptom usually subsides after a few months, but the individual should seek help if they continue to find difficulty managing their emotions.

Apathy or fatigue

Even if someone with TBI does not experience depression, they may feel overwhelming exhaustion, fatigue, and apathy. Physical or psychological fatigue can make it difficult for the person to express themselves or carry out simple activities.

Individuals may experience a lack of motivation and constant tiredness that affects their physical functioning.


Mania refers to a mental illness that causes short-term periods of great excitement, euphoria, and delusion. Individuals may have a spike of energy and communicate nonsensical ideas.

The effect of mania is usually short-lived, and not long after will the individual feel once again depleted and apathetic.

Final thoughts

TBI can have numerous effects on our psychological functionality. Many of these symptoms will go away with time. If a few months have passed, it’s vital to seek help from a mental health professional to begin the psychological healing process.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.


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