Depression and suicidal thoughts are major problems that occur after a traumatic brain injury. Over half of the people who have suffered from this intracranial injury are affected by depression during the prime years, post injury. Even more of these people (about two-thirds), are affected five years after the injury. This depression eventually leads to suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. According to Teasdale, 2000, 17% of patients with traumatic brain injury usually report suicidal thoughts and attempts in a five-year post-injury period. A large percentage of these individuals with this suicidal behavior are males aged between 24 to 35 years old. This is especially the case for male professional athletes or military soldiers who have incurred an injury during their service or sports activities.
“After sustaining a concussion we see increased rates of insomnia, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal behavior among victims,” said National Centre for Veterans Studies’ Associate Director, Craig Bryan.
Different factors contribute and lead to such stress patterns and suicidal behavior, and they considerably differ in severity from one patient to another. Some of these factors include:
- Physical changes in the brain as a result of the injury. An injury to certain sections of the brain which control emotions may lead to increased depression, agitation, irritability and in the long run, suicidal behavior.
- Victim’s emotional response to the injury. Post-concussion, the patient usually struggles to adjust and adapt to a new life of either temporary or permanent disability and loss of power or role in the family, workplace or the society. This, if not anything else, leads to contemplation and attempt of suicide.
- Injury-Unrelated factors. Some post-concussion syndrome patients have higher risks of depression and suicide behavior due to inherited genes and family history, or other reasons and issues that were present in their lives even before the injury.
It is of critical importance to carefully watch such victims during their recovery to note any possible signs of suicidal attempt. Moreover, it is crucial to seek professional help from health care experts familiar with the after-effects of TBI.
In addition, it may be necessary to put the following measures into consideration to prevent suicidal attempts post-concussion.
Anti-depressant drugs are effective in controlling the emotional balance of the individual. These drugs help by restoring the natural chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. They help with managing moods and other depression symptoms such as poor concentration, anxiety, low energy and lack of sleep. However every patient’s situation is unique, and they, therefore, must consult qualified medical personnel.
Research has it that undergoing counseling and therapy sessions are one of the best approaches to minimize depression or suicidal behavior. There are different kinds of counseling and psychotherapy such as cognitive behavior therapy and behavior activation therapy. Through therapy, patients learn how to change positively the way they react, behave, feel or think about the things that happen to them. Moreover, through behavioral therapy, individuals learn how to deal with depression by learning to enjoy pleasurable activities. This eventually reduces depression and minimizes suicidal thoughts and attempts.
A combination of these approaches together with other activities such acupuncture, exercise, and biofeedback have proven significantly helpful in treating depression and hence minimizing suicidal attempts.
Joining a brain injury support group may also help as the patient will be more at ease knowing there are many other people with similar, even worse, situations like theirs. Remember sickness and depression are not a sign of weakness. In any case, we are always saying injuries are someone else’s fault. GreeningLaw P.C. has had years of experience with victims of traumatic brain injury and we are here to help ensure your family’s well-being through difficult times. We urge you to contact us today if you, or a loved one has incurred a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of someone else.