The Psychiatric Sequelae of a Traumatic Brain Injury

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April 02, 2019
Edward Smith

The Psychiatric Sequelae of a Traumatic Brain Injury

Many different complications can develop following a traumatic brain injury. One of the most severe complications is the development of psychiatric disorders. Examples of common mental disorders include depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, traumatic brain injuries are more common than many people realize. According to statistics on TBIs that have been published by Brainline:

  • Close to three million people will be diagnosed with a TBI every year.
  • Of these individuals, close to 300,000 will need to spend at least one night in the hospital.
  • About 50,000 of these people will die as a result of their head injury.
  • The remainder requires treatment in the emergency department.
  • About 153 people die from a TBI daily.

These numbers show that traumatic brain injuries are both common and deadly. Despite the tremendous amount of research regarding head and brain injuries, serious complications can still develop.

Signs and Symptoms of a Mental Health Disorder

One of the many complications of a traumatic brain injury is the development of psychiatric problems. Some of the signs and symptoms of mental health problems include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns include increased sleep or difficulty falling asleep at night.
  • A lack of interest in activities and events that used to bring pleasure and enjoyment.
  • Feeling guilty about circumstances that are out of one’s control.
  • A decreased level of energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating at school, work, or even on house chores.
  • An abrupt increase or decrease in appetite.
  • Fidgeting and having trouble sitting still.
  • Suicidal thoughts or phrases.

These symptoms above are indicative of depression; however, psychiatric disorders are going to present differently in different people. Some people might have many of the symptoms listed above, while others might have relatively few. Therefore, it is important for loved ones to remain vigilant for these symptoms, particularly after a traumatic brain injury.

A Study: Psychiatric Disorders Following a Traumatic Brain Injury

Researchers published a study on a group of about 1,100 individuals who were admitted to the hospital due to traumatic injuries. These patients were seen at four different hospitals. The individuals were then assessed at both 3 months and 12 months after their hospital stay for the development of mental health issues. The individuals were also asked about their overall quality of life after the injury and about their use of mental health services. At 12 months, about a third of the individuals reported developing signs and symptoms of a psychiatric disorder. Based on the results:

  • Close to 10 percent of individuals reported feeling signs or symptoms of depression.
  • A similar number of individuals reported symptoms of anxiety attacks such as excessive worrying, trouble breathing, a rising heart rate, and sweating.
  • Just over 5 percent of people had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can present with flashbacks and irritability.
  • Around 6 percent of people had developed agoraphobia which is the fear of going outside.

Interestingly, individuals were more likely to develop these psychiatric problems if they had suffered functional impairment as a result of their TBI. Signs of functional impairment include:

  • The loss of motor function or weakness in one or more limbs.
  • Sensory issues including numbness or tingling.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Either trouble forming new memories or difficulty remembering old ones.

Fortunately, there are multiple treatment options available for these various psychiatric disorders. It is important to take a well-rounded approach to the treatment of mental health issues.

Watch YouTube Video: Psychiatric Issues after Brain Injury. This video explains how psychiatric issues can develop following a traumatic brain injury.

The Treatment Options for a Psychiatric Disorder

Depending on the exact type of psychiatric illness that has been diagnosed, the treatment options are going to vary. It is important for individuals to be diagnosed with the correct psychiatric illness to determine the type of treatment. The most effective treatment plans are typically going to be a combination of medical management and behavioral counseling. Some of the types of medications that might be used include:

SSRI: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are one of the cornerstones in the treatment of depression. The side effect profile of SSRIs is relatively mild and will vary from medication to medication. This means that individuals are able to tailor their depression treatment to meet their needs. Examples of SSRIs include Zoloft, Paxil, and Celexa.

Anti-Psychotics: In some cases, people could be diagnosed with schizophrenia. Marked by hallucinations and delusions, there are still medical treatment options available. These could include Geodon, Haldol, or Zyprexa.

Benzodiazepines: Individuals who suffer from anxiety are likely going to benefit from treatment with benzodiazepines. There are both short and long-acting medications that are used for acute anxiety attacks and maintenance therapy, respectively. Examples include Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium.

After seeking appropriate medical care, it is important for individuals and their loved ones to meet with an experienced legal professional.

Contacting a Brain Injury Lawyer

If a friend or family member has suffered a traumatic brain injury, this can create a stressful situation. Family members will understandably have many questions that need to be answered. After seeking medical care, it is important to take the time to meet with a TBI lawyer in San Francisco. Some of the ways that a Bay Area injury attorney can provide assistance include:

  • Reviewing the records from the injury to ensure that all of the details have been considered appropriate.
  • Working with professionals to reconstruct what happened in the accident, making sure that the mechanism is correct.
  • Helping families file for damages related to their injuries, its complications, and any pain or suffering.
  • Shifting a case to trial when required.

Families should not feel like they need to face these problems alone. Be sure to reach out and ask for help from an experienced San Francisco TBI lawyer. You and your family may be deserving of a substantial settlement.

TBI Lawyers in San Francisco

I’m Ed Smith, a San Francisco TBI lawyer. When someone suffers a traumatic brain injury, they are prone to developing psychiatric complications. If one of your loved ones has suffered a serious traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle accident, please contact me at (415) 805-7284 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
I have been asked to join the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for the state of California. This highly ranked group of injury lawyers has been included with many of the top accident attorneys in the United States. Our attorneys have settled cases & earned verdicts of more than $1 million.

Please pause for a minute and look at my membership as a part of the Top One Percent, a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

You may read some of our verdicts/settlements.

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The Psychiatric Sequelae of a Traumatic Brain Injury:

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