Suffering any kind of brain injury can have a devastating impact on your life, but what issues do they cause and how can you combat them?
Brain injuries are arguably one of the worst injuries a human being can suffer. Not only are they life threatening, they could cause all sorts of long-term issues further down the line.
Even mild brain injuries can leave you with life-changing symptoms that you have to spend a long time recovering from. In this post, we’re going to discuss what constitutes a mild brain injury, and talk about how they can scramble your life.
We’ll then provide some advice on how to put it back together again. So, if you’re looking for some facts and advice, read on…
What is a Mild Brain Injury?
There are four classifications of brain injury that range from mild to very severe. They’re all classified based on how long consciousness was lost for, and the length of post traumatic amnesia after consciousness is regained.
- Mild brain injury: loss of consciousness is less than 15 minutes, and post traumatic amnesia less than one hour.
- Moderate brain injury: unconscious for 15 mins to six hours, and amnesia lasts one to 24 hours.
- Severe brain injury: unconscious for six to 48 hours, with 24 hours to seven days of amnesia.
- Very severe brain injury: unconscious for more than 48 hours, and amnesia lasts more than seven days
There’s a fair amount of flow between categories, because lumping your brain injury into any single one isn’t an accurate way to look at the long-term effects of your condition. Some people who have mild brain injuries can have severe long term affects outside of amnesia. Also, people with severe injuries can have less – it’s all on a spectrum.
Most of the time, people who suffer a mild brain injury have symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, confusion or an inability to process or retain information. They may also experience sensitivity to light and vision distortion.
These mild brain injury symptoms, plus many others that we’ll cover in the next section, can have a devastating effect on a person’s life. Most of the time, it’s not even clear that the injury was the cause.
How Can Mild Brain Injuries Mess with Your Life?
Now that we know what a mild brain injury is, it’s time to look at how they can affect a person’s life, long after the injury itself took place.
We mentioned dizziness, nausea and other more obvious, short-term, symptoms at the end of the last section. That said, there are more long-term issues mild brain injuries can cause that people rarely associate with the injury. Let’s take a look at some of them:
These are much more likely if you suffer a severe to very severe brain injury but can also affect you if you suffer a less traumatic head injury. It all depends on what part of your brain has been damaged.
You might notice some personality changes after your brain injury, which can be devastating to you, but also to your friends and family. If the change is drastic enough it can become a type of bereavement for your loved ones, saying goodbye to the old you.
If the changes are more subtle than that, it can also cause a huge problem because you might not relate it to the brain injury. This can leave you feeling very confused and isolated.
As with a mild change in personality, a mood swing here or there might not seem like a result of your brain injury.
Imagine you suddenly get aggressive when you’re feeling happy, or you get sad all of a sudden, you might blame yourself for those reactions instead of the injury. On top of that, your family might not recognise it’s because of the injury and blame you as well.
Depression and Anxiety
If you suffer damage to your brain’s emotional control regions, it can cause depression and anxiety.
As with the other emotional issues we’ve talked about, the fact that your brain injury was mild means you’re less likely to be made aware of this potential symptom. Sometimes, even knowing that it’s normal to feel this way can help alleviate some of the burden.
There are a number of different theories on why brain injuries cause fatigue. One of them is that the ARAS system that controls alertness is damaged during the injury.
If you damaged that part of your brain when you suffered your injury, you could easily suffer from chronic fatigue which affects all aspects of your life. For example, you could underperform at work or not have energy to play with your kids or speak to your spouse.
In circumstances where the fatigue is serious, it can even make it difficult for a person to get dressed and walk around.
How Can You Deal with the Issues Caused by a Mild Brain Injury?
At this point, we know what mild brain injuries are and how they can mess with your life, but what should you do to combat these problems?
Working with a psychologist can obviously help you with the emotional and physical changes. That said, if you don’t have access to one, or you’d rather deal with the issue yourself, here are a few things you can do:
Identify Your Triggers
If you start to get regular mood swings as a result of your brain injury, try to find a pattern in what’s happening at the time you get them. Did someone say something specific to you, were you in a similar situation to when you suffered the injury, did you start feeling dizzy?
Recognising that you’re about to have a mood swing can often help you swerve and avoid having it in the first place. At the very least you’ll be able to warn people and tell them it’s because of your injury.
Ask a Family Member for Help
You’re not always able to recognise when you’re going to have a mood swing or when you’re acting out of character. So, enlisting the help of a family member to spot these changes for you can be a big help.
Keep a Journal
As we said in the previous section, one of the big issues with a mild brain injury is that you don’t recognise that your personality or moods have changed. Keeping a journal of all your feelings and thoughts can help you notice the change in yourself and come to terms with it.
Have a Calming Plan
If you’re looking to deescalate your emotions, find a way to calm yourself down and use it whenever you feel like you’re going to have a mood swing or a depressive episode. It could be something as simple as sitting in a quiet room for a breather in difficult situations.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise combats all the above-mentioned issues caused by a mild brain injury. It can relieve stress and tension to lessen your mood swings, and can be as effective as antidepressants for helping with depression. It’ll also help give you the energy boost you need to brush away fatigue.
Will Your Symptoms Ever Go Away?
In this post, we’ve managed to cover what mild brain injuries are, how they affect a person’s life, and what you can do to combat those issues.
Recognising that mood swings, personality changes, depression and fatigue are results of the injury is the first step to recovery. After that, post-concussive symptoms will eventually fade away if you take the steps laid out above and seek psychological counselling.
All in all, accept that your mild brain injury has caused you some emotional and behavioural issues, take the steps to rectify it, and don’t let the injury define you.