Depression After Brain Injury
Depression is a common symptom of brain injury. Up to half of TBI patients will experience depression in the first year of recovery – this is eight times higher than the general population.
Depression can come from two sources. It can be an emotional response to the limitations of the injury, and the life changes brought on by it. Depression can also be a direct result of the injury itself. The injury can cause physical damage or biochemical changes certain areas of the brain that will trigger depressive feelings.
Don’t take depression for granted
It shouldn’t be taken for granted that a person experiencing such a significant loss would feel depressed. Signs of serious, ongoing depression should be evaluated. Depression will reveal itself as more than daily fluctuations in mood, and the symptoms generally will last longer than two weeks.
Real depression often appears later in the healing process, as the person lives with the long-term effects of brain injury. Signs of depression can include:
- loss of interest in activities
- low mood and low energy
- feelings of worthlessness
- thoughts of death
- statements like no one would miss them, or everyone would be better off if they were gone.
It’s important to understand depression is an illness itself. It can’t be wished away with a positive outlook. It needs professional evaluation – indeed, only 45% of brained injured persons are properly treated for their depression. Untreated depression can be so overwhelming that it interferes with efforts at recovery and healing.
Experts stress it’s important to receive adequate medication and adequate psychotherapy. Many people don’t take the treatments long enough or receive accurate dosage, so it’s vital that the professional understand the needs of TBI patients. Behavioral treatments can help as well, such as having structured activities throughout the day, including exercise.
Even persons who seem to be doing well in recovery still face steep challenges in the daily strains of working with an impaired brain. These day to day impositions can take a toll that’s felt and handled differently by everyone. For these reasons, some experts recommend that in the long-term, BI survivors be screened for depression up to every six months.
Virginia Brain Injury Lawyer
If you’ve sustained a brain injury because of an accident that was caused by someone else, you may want to contact a brain injury lawyer. While we cannot change what has happened to you, we can help you to obtain compensation for the proper medical care you need now and may need in the future.