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Jack Sisson's TBI Blog

A hug is duct tape for the soul.


From The Homelessness Resource Center (the article was originally published by : 

Life after Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is not only impacted by the physical and/or intellectual results of the injury, but also deep emotional stress brought on by feelings of isolation and helplessness. This randomized controlled trial finds that people living with TBI are found with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and substance use problems. Understanding the causes of these issues, and strategies for treatment, is the first step to preventing homelessness for people with TBI.

Between 1993 and 1998, the Research and Training Center on Community Integration of People with traumatic brain injury (TBI) interviewed hundreds of individuals about their lives after experiencing traumatic brain injuries. People were eligible to be part of this sample if they viewed themselves as someone who has experienced a brain injury and has a disability. A comparison group of individuals who view themselves as non-disabled was also interviewed. These samples include men and women from all regions of New York State - rural areas, cities, and suburbs. People as young as 18 and as old as 65, of all races, income levels, and life experiences participated in this research. In this TBI Consumer Report, we share some of the insights on emotional stress, resulting from these interviews.

The most commonly experienced emotional problems after TBI were depression, anxiety, and substance abuse/dependency:
  • Depression is a condition marked by emotional and physical problems. People who are depressed experience a loss of pleasure in things that they usually find enjoyable. They typically feel sad and worthless and have trouble getting through each day. They often complain of altered sleep, appetite and concentration difficulties. In the general population, we would expect that six people in any group of 100 will experience a major depression in their lives. In our sample, 10 times this many (60) had experienced major depression since their TBI. Thus, brain injury triggered a bout of severe depression in the majority of the sample. However, the good news is that more than half of these 60 individuals had gotten over their depression by the time of the interview. Depression seems for many to be open to healing.
  • Anxiety was found about twice more often in our sample of individuals with TBI than in the general population. "Anxiety" refers to a variety of disorders. For example, posttraumatic stress is a type of anxiety in which people experience flashbacks in which they relive the event that caused their TBI. Phobias are another common type of anxiety, in which the person experiences great fear centered on a specific situation, such as being in an elevator or car, or flying in a plane. Unlike depression, most people who had anxiety disorders after TBI continued experiencing these problems up to the time of the interview.
  • Substance use/abuse was also frequently found.  Findings about this form of emotional challenge will not be discussed here, but instead in Issue No. 6 of TBI Consumer Report.

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