Depression and Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an
injury to your brain that can change the way you think, act, and feel. It's easy to
understand how a brain injury can change your thinking. It may be harder to understand
it changes your feelings. In fact, dealing with changes in feelings and emotions may
hardest part of a TBI.
A TBI is caused by a jolt or a blow to
the brain. A TBI can be caused by a fall, car accident, fight, or sports injury. A
injury such as can occur in the military can also cause a TBI. One of the changes
happen after a TBI is depression.
A TBI may change your brain in a way
that increases your risk for depression. The stress of recovering from a TBI can also
increase your depression risk. It's important to recognize and treat depression because
can slow your TBI recovery. The combination of a TBI and depression is also dangerous.
may increase your risk for substance abuse and even suicide.
Symptoms of depression after a
Many of the symptoms of depression
and TBI are similar. Having a TBI can get you down. It's normal to have “the blues”
sometimes. But depression symptoms tend to be worse and last longer than the blues.
your healthcare provider know if you have symptoms of depression, such as:
Changes in sleep
Changes in your appetite
Trouble focusing or paying
Lack of energy
Lack of interest in things
and activities you usually enjoy, including sex
Feeling very guilty, sad,
worthless, or hopeless
Thinking about death or
Treating depression after a TBI
If you have a TBI and depression,
you should be treated for depression in addition to the steps you’re taking to recover
from the TBI. Know that depression is a medical problem, not a sign of weakness. You
can’t just snap out of it using willpower. Untreated depression can lead to problems
work and at home. The good news is that you're not alone and that there is treatment
depression that works. Here are some types of effective treatment:
Cognitive behavioral therapy
This is a type of counseling, or talk therapy, given by a mental
health provider. CBT teaches you to recognize negative thoughts and behaviors.
You'll learn how to cope with these thoughts and behaviors and how to change
Interpersonal therapy (IPT). This
is another type of counseling that helps with depression. In IPT, a mental health
provider helps you identify relationship problems that contribute to depression.
You'll learn to improve your communication and problem-solving skills.
Problem-solving therapy (PST).
This is a way to treat depression by learning a step-by-step approach to solving
Antidepressant medicines. These
medicines correct the chemical imbalance in the brain that causes depression.
Medicines take a few weeks to start working. They're often combined with
counseling for the best results.
This uses electrical activity to treat symptoms of severe
depression which don't respond to other means.
Symptoms of depression and a TBI
can be very similar. Let your healthcare provider know about any TBI symptoms that
getting worse and about any new symptoms. If you have feelings of sadness, hopelessness,
or grief that are interfering with your life and your TBI recovery, it could be
988 in a crisis
Don’t try to treat your symptoms with alcohol or drugs. These substances make both
depression and the TBI worse. Always let someone know right away if you have any
thoughts of harming yourself or others. Call or text
988. Thoughts of suicide are a medical
emergency. When you call or text
you will be connected to trained crisis counselors at the National Suicide Prevention
Lifeline. An online chat option is also available at
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Lifeline is free and available 24/7.