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Depression after a brain injury: basic information you and your family need to know

Research has found that patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are three times more likely to experience depression than those who have not had one. For every 10 people who do not have a brain injury, approximately one person will have depression. For every 10 people who do, approximately three people will. Both the patient and their caregivers must educate themselves to recognize the signs and lower the chance of anxiety. At NeuLife, we help prepare patients and family for a successful return to normal life by guiding them through the whole process of brain injury rehabilitation.  

Unfortunately, researchers have not been able to determine specific factors that cause depression after brain injuries or when it usually starts. Some people experience depression right after their injury, while others develop it a year or more later. Regardless of when your brain injury occurred, it is important to tell your doctor about any depressive symptoms. The doctors and health care professionals at NeuLife brain injury clinic will then ask you a series of questions or have you fill out a questionnaire or form to aid in diagnosing you.

Symptoms of depression

These are some symptoms of early depression:

  • Feeling down, depressed, or sad most of the day or even longer
  • Changes in your sleeping habits, such as sleeping poorly or sleeping more than usual
  • Losing interest in everyday activities like your favorite hobbies, time with family members, or going out with friends
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco
  • Abnormal decrease or increase in appetite
  • Strong feelings of sadness, helplessness and hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide

Often, people suffering from depression do not notice their own symptoms, leaving it up to caregivers and close friends or family to be attentive to mood or behavioral changes.

How is depression treated?

Depression is usually treated two ways:

  • Personal counseling with a health care professional, called psychotherapy. You and a trained psychologist or psychiatrist will talk about your symptoms and how to develop ways to deal with them.
  • Antidepressants prescribed by a doctor. It is important that you do not start taking them without a consultation with a specialist.

However, the most important factor in treating depression as part of a brain injury rehabilitation program is the support of family members and friends. A person suffering from depression often feels worthless and loses their sense of belonging. Those close to the patient should make an extra effort to show them how much they matter by keeping lines of communication open and involving them in social activities.

About NeuLife

NeuLife is a Residential Post-Acute Rehab facility specializing in brain injury rehabilitation. Its program includes physical medicine and rehabilitation medical management, psychiatric and neuropsychological services, physical, occupational, speech and cognitive therapies, behavioral, dietary and vocational counseling, and more. Beautifully situated on 43 acres in Mount Dora, Florida, its inpatient rehab facility comprises over 60,000 square feet and contains 54 private rooms or suites. If you would like more information about NeuLife Rehabilitation Services, please contact us.