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. One
changes that can happen after a TBI is depression. Studies show that depression affects
anywhere from 3 in 20 people to more than 1 in 2 people with a TBI.
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 TBI
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 concentrating or paying attention
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 suicide
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 at work and at home. The good news is that you are
not alone and that there is treatment for depression that works. Here are some types
of effective treatment:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is a type of
counseling, or talk therapy, given by a mental health professional. CBT teaches
you to recognize negative thoughts and behaviors. You will learn how to cope with
these thoughts and behaviors and how to change them.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT). This is another type of
counseling that helps with depression. In IPT, a mental health professional helps
you identify relationship problems that contribute to depression. You will 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 problems.
Antidepressant medicines. These medicines correct the
chemical imbalance in the brain that causes depression. Medicines take a few weeks
to start working. They are often combined with counseling for the best
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
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 are 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 depression.
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 suicide. Call
911. Thoughts of
suicide are a medical emergency.