Depression after a brain injury

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 ten people who do not have a brain injury, approximately one person will have depression. For every ten people who do, around 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 families for a successful return to everyday life by guiding them through the whole process of brain injury rehabilitation

Unfortunately, researchers have not determined 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 essential to tell your doctor about any depressive symptoms. The doctors and health care professionals at NeuLife will then ask you a series of questions or fill out a questionnaire or form to aid in diagnosing you.

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Symptoms of depression

These are some symptoms of early depression. Usually  the symptoms last at least a week or more and interfere with everyday life:

  • 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
  • Intense feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide

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

Remember some amount of sadness after a brain injury is normal. But when it lasts for a prolonged period of time and the symptoms do not seem to improve, then it may be depression. Fortunately, post-acute rehabilitation offers effective treatment options specializing in TBI and depression. 


How is depression treated?

Depression is usually treated two ways:

  • Personal counseling with a health care professional through psychotherapy. You and a trained psychologist or psychiatrist will talk about your symptoms and develop ways to deal with them.
  • Antidepressants prescribed by a doctor. It would help if you didn't start taking them without a consultation with a specialist.

The most important component in treating depression at a neuro-rehabilitation centre is having the support of loved ones. If the patient is experiencing depression, they may feel lonely, worthless, or like they do not belong. 

If those close to the patient make an effort to show love and compassion, it can aid in healing. A simple way to accomplish this is by opening up lines of communication and including them in social activities when they occur. 


What is the Cause of Depression when a loved one has had a TBI?

There are a few factors that may contribute to depression if your loved one has had a TBI. For one, they may have experienced actual physical changes in the brain due to the injury. Sometimes there is damage to the part of the brain that is in charge of regulating emotions. 

There are also lifestyle changes that a TBI impacts. The patient may experience job loss, disability, or loss of income. Any of these factors can contribute to depression. 

Also, specific individuals may be more at risk of suffering from depression. There may be a hereditary component, personal history, substance abuse, or another risk factor involved. If these factors are present before the injury, the patient is more at risk for depression. 

Depression after a brain injury


Learn More About NeuLife - One of The Best Brain Injury Residential Facilities

NeuLife is a Residential Post-Acute Rehab facility specializing in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, neurological disorder rehab and more. 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.

For more information about NeuLife Rehabilitation Services, please give us a call at 800.626.3876, or visit our website. You can also make a referral or schedule a tour!


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


Dedicated to providing the highest caliber of care to individuals with brain injuries, NeuLife Rehabilitation is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
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We know that choosing the next step in your recovery from a catastrophic illness or injury is complex. Together, we can help you take the next step.

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