Depression After Brain Injury

By July 22, 2019Events, News, Newsletter, Resources

Written By: Chris B

My stroke occurred in February 2015, unplanned obviously, and very much unwelcomed. Many of my challenges have been summarily defeated/overcome. I have defeated most of my paralysis; I can now use my effected side and jettisoned the cane; speech is very good, but the one ailment that is ever-present for many, regardless of the type of brain injury, is depression.

Part of the unavoidable growth/challenges forced upon many stroke and TBI survivors is the psychological impact of life change as well as overall brain chemistry change due to injury.

Not everyone becomes depressed, but, a sobering half of all people with TBI are effected by depression within the first year after injury. Even more (nearly two-thirds) are effected within seven years after injury. That’s right– it can increase over time.

According to The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, in the general population, the rate of depression is much lower, affecting less than one person in 10 over a one-year period.  

More than half of the people with TBI who are depressed also have significant anxiety.

In the big picture, everyone can imagine reminiscing about past life events, not different than an athlete realizing they can’t compete at the same level.

Getting over an ended relationship is never fun – the parallels are similar. As with all of these analogies, visiting the past is better than living in it.

Easier said than done, but, listen to your wellness team, family, church, neighbors, and get help if you or others notice behavior changes or overall withdrawal from society. It’s a very common reaction post brain injury to want to cocoon and remove yourself from interaction, but, staying active and finding friends/purpose/goals can help a lot.

The bottom line, GET HELP, be it, discussion, physician-prescribed medication, counseling, finding a hobby – all have been proven to work and it will be a forward step on your path to a better future.

Fortunately, I’m mobile and can drive, so I was able to increase my social circle by joining a gym and volunteering at a farm museum.

I had the fun effect of crying for no reason (commercials, speeches, church hymns…); medication worked for me without impacting my personality.

Keeping busy is an often-prescribed cure for mood change, which can be difficult as the drive/inertia is often low post brain injury. Group activities and a standard schedule can help with accountability for activities.

BIND is a place where members can find people with similar situations and thoughts from various backgrounds, and the environment can fill the void of lost friendships/coworkers and exposes many to the successes of the recovery journey.

The group activities and responsibilities we undertake help with one’s self-esteem and purpose.

I’d strongly encourage someone who has suffered an acquired brain injury to check out BIND or any local stroke/TBI support group.