How Can I Protect My Mental Health After a Brain Injury?
Updated: May 5, 2020
Brain injuries can disrupt a person's entire life in a matter of seconds. For some, the changes they experience will be permanent, but others may only have temporary symptoms to manage. Even a concussion can have a significant impact on someone's mental health. Your brain affects everything, from your physiological processes to your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. These tips will help you be kinder with yourself and care for your mental health as you recover from a brain injury.
Prevent Further Injury
Experiencing a second brain injury during recovery can worsen symptoms and even result in permanent damage. To prevent this, make sure you follow all of your doctors' orders and stay aware of signs of a concussion. Regardless of how a brain injury occurs the first time, be sure to take precautions to prevent a repeat incident. Many patients are told to pause all work and personal activities during the initial stages of recovery; this may cause you to feel isolated, lazy, and even depressed. Just remember that holding back and resting is best for your safety and well-being.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress is more than just a feeling. When your body is under stress, the brain releases hormones and neurotransmitters that can impact your recovery. The effects of stress on the body range are numerous, including high blood pressure, insomnia, changes in appetite, and excessive fatigue. Close management of your stress levels will ensure that you are able to focus fully on recovering. Lower stress also reduces the likelihood of a depressive episode or anxiety flare-up.
Reach Out and Talk
Recovering from a brain injury can elicit many different emotions. You may find yourself anxious, depressed, or struggling to cope with your limitations. Whenever you're struggling, don't hesitate to talk to a loved one or a counselor. Sometimes, you just need the support of a friend or trusted relative. Others, you can benefit from the guidance of a licensed mental health professional. Research shows that even mild traumatic brain injuries can cause mental illness. Whether you find yourself suddenly on edge most of the time or wrestling with feelings of hopelessness and demotivation, there's no shame in asking for help.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about any changes you experience as a result of your brain injury; healing can take months or even years, so collaboration and communication are crucial. Your health matters, and this includes your mental health too, which will more than likely be impacted by your brain injury. Recovering from a brain injury takes time, patience and, most importantly, self-compassion.