Mood Swings: Common Brain Injury Deficits

Mood swings are another common problem after head injury that is likely due to impaired frontal lobe function, just like executive functioning.

mood swings

Crying uncontrollably is one of the possible problems that can occur after a traumatic brain injury. Family and friends might observe a personality change in the person with the TBI. (Flickr / Creative Commons / maren.)

For our blog on executive function, click here.

Problems with mood often appear as inappropriate reaction to trivial events, or the little things. This might include temper tantrums, or crying or laughing uncontrollably.

This is a behavior problem where there is a direct link between the amount of self-control one has and the presence of stress, fatigue, or tension. When the patient is operating on little sleep, he or she may become more irritable or prone to temper tantrums.

For our blog on Fatigue and Stress, click here.

Problems with frontal lobes, which is related to mood swings, can revert the person affected to a younger age, where they do not have the self control they should have at their age. Patients often need to work on getting their temper under control after brain injury, because they’ve lost what they used to have.

Mood swings or possible outbursts of tears and often are described by others as a personality change. Executive functioning impairments might also be described as a personality change as well. These impairments are often very difficult for the family to cope with and may damage the patient’s social relationships.

For example, Quinn’s wife admits that he is much more emotional about life. He needs to be treated with medication to get his mood under control. Although most of the time he controls his temper, she describes small things that will set him off. Quinn seemed to have a hard time accepting the change in roles that takes place after a brain injury. He complained that his wife was trying to be in charge and boss him around, when she’s more than likely trying to help. It’s almost as if his emotional age dropped after his brain injury.

Steven described some of his changes in mood after his brain injury, which included anxiety, depression, and problems with temper. He said that he had to work really hard to make sure his temper stays under control.

Elizabeth says that temper problems and emotional outbursts are among her biggest problems. She works with a counselor and her husband on controlling her temper. She describes feeling like an eighth grader who gets put in timeout after she has an emotional outburst. Like many brain injury survivors, she has problems with her temper, which relates to the stress, nerves, and fear that she harbors.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

More Posts - Website - 312-767-9383

TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle Plus