After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), patients experience a number of different challenges during the recovery process. In addition to the mental and physical difficulties, patients can experience emotional and behavioral changes. Though it may be difficult to talk about, a lot of patients may have feelings of depression or hopelessness, or even have thoughts of suicide. Feelings like these can be brought on by the stress of the injury and rehabilitation process, though damage to areas of your brain in charge of your emotional responses can also have an impact on how you feel.
A recent report reveals that major depressive disorder (MDD) may be the most common and challenging mental health condition that patients encounter following a TBI—53.1% of TBI patients in the study experienced MDD at least once in the first year after their injury. Another study showed that suicidal thoughts and attempts are also common reactions to TBI—23% of the participants had thoughts of suicide, while 17% actually attempted suicide after their injury. These higher rates of suicidal behaviors may also be connected to MDD following TBI. Though these statistics may seem a little scary, it doesn’t mean that you have to be without hope when it comes to coping with these issues during recovery; a good TBI treatment center should recognize that addressing their patients’ mental health issues is a key component of the recovery process.
SUICIDE ATTEMPTS CAN CAUSE BRAIN & HEAD INJURIES
Though there’s a lot of research showing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts following a TBI, there is another aspect of the story that’s worth considering—suicide attempts as causes of brain injuries, not just effects of them. Oftentimes, depression or other mental health issues exist prior to a brain injury. Sadly, the feelings experienced as a result of such issues can lead to suicide attempts, which appear to be responsible for a large number of the intentional injuries that cause TBIs. In these situations, addressing your mental health history with your health care team will be an especially important part of the recovery process.
Of course, the recovery process for brain-injured patients can be incredibly stressful on its own. Adding in feelings of depression or suicide may make some of the emotional aspects of recovery even more difficult—all of these things thrown together can seem like a series of overwhelming hurdles to jump. However, that doesn’t mean they’re un-jumpable. Regardless of how or when they are experienced, things like depression and suicidal thoughts must be addressed in your recovery process. Perhaps working with a health care team that includes mental health specialists could help create a more well-rounded approach to your treatment. No matter what, it’s critical that you to talk with someone on your team in order to figure out how to tackle the different feelings you or a loved one may be experiencing during this difficult time.