Traumatic brain injuries and mental health disorders

Falls, workplace accidents and car crashes may all cause traumatic brain injuries. Individuals who sustain a mild form of TBI (concussion) may only experience physical symptoms for a short period of time. However, both mild and severe TBIs may contribute to a wide range of mental health challenges. 

Studies show that TBI may cause mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Common signs of TBI 

According to Psychology Today, traumatic brain injuries account for a high percentage of deaths and disabilities among Americans; statistics indicate that there are 1.7 million instances of TBI in the United States every year. These injuries generally occur with a strong, sudden external blow to the head. 

Many individuals recognize physical signs of a TBI, such as headache, unconsciousness and nausea. However, they may ignore subtle emotional and cognitive signs that indicate potential mental health issues, such as memory loss, heightened anxiety, mood swings and poor decision-making. 

Psychology Today states that TBI may drastically increase the risk of mental illnesses including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Traumatic brain injuries also increase the risk of depression and suicide. 

Mental illnesses linked to TBI 

Even mild cases of TBI (concussions) may lead to mental health disorders. A study by the National Institutes of Health indicates that approximately 20 percent of individuals who sustain a concussion experience mental health symptoms afterward. In some cases, these symptoms appear months after the initial injury. According to the NIH study, individuals who sustained a concussion were more likely to experience symptoms of major depressive disorder and/or PTSD. Even mild injuries may cause long-term mental health issues, making comprehensive follow-up care essential for individuals with TBIs of any severity.