Posts Tagged emotional lability
Identifying Behavior Problems
Head injury survivors may experience a range of neuro psychological problems following a traumatic brain injury. Depending on the part of the brain affected and the severity of the injury, the result on any one individual can vary greatly. Personality changes, memory and judgement deficits, lack of impulse control, and poor concentration are all common. Behavioral changes can be stressful for families and caregivers who must learn to adapt their communication techniques, established relationships, and expectations of what the impaired person can or cannot do.In some cases extended cognitive and behavioral rehabilitation in a residential or outpatient setting will be necessary to regain certain skills. A neuropsychologist also may be helpful in assessing cognitive deficits. However, over the long term both the survivor and any involved family members will need to explore what combination of strategies work best to improve the functional and behavioral skills of the impaired individual.
Even a person who makes a “good” recovery may go through some personality changes. Family members must be careful to avoid always comparing the impaired person with the way he/she “used to be.” Personality changes are often an exaggeration of the person’s pre-injury personality in which personality traits become intensified. Some changes can be quite striking. It may be, for example, the head injury survivor used to be easy going, energetic, and thoughtful and now seems easily angered, self-absorbed, and unable to show enthusiasm for anything. Nonetheless, try not to criticize or make fun of the impaired person’s deficits. This is sure to make the person feel frustrated, angry, or embarrassed.
Brain injury and emotions
A brain injury can change the way people feel or express emotions. An individual with TBI can have several types of emotional problems.
Difficulty controlling emotions or “mood swings”
Some people may experience emotions very quickly and intensely but with very little lasting effect. For example, they may get angry easily but get over it quickly. Or they may seem to be “on an emotional roller coaster” in which they are happy one moment, sad the next and then angry. This is called emotional lability.
What causes this problem?
- Mood swings and emotional lability are often caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls emotions and behavior.
- Often there is no specific event that triggers a sudden emotional response. This may be confusing for family members who may think they accidently did something that upset the injured person.
- In some cases the brain injury can cause sudden episodes of crying or laughing. These emotional expressions or outbursts may not have any relationship to the way the persons feels (in other words, they may cry without feeling sad or laugh without feeling happy). In some cases the emotional expression may not match the situation (such as laughing at a sad story). Usually the person cannot control these expressions of emotion.
What can be done about it?
- Fortunately, this situation often improves in the first few months after injury, and people often return to a more normal emotional balance and expression.
- If you are having problems controlling your emotions, it is important to talk to a physician or psychologist to find out the cause and get help with treatment.
- Counseling for the family can be reassuring and allow them to cope better on a daily basis.
- Several medications may help improve or stabilize mood. You should consult a physician familiar with the emotional problems caused by brain injury.
What family members and others can do:
- Remain calm if an emotional outburst occurs, and avoid reacting emotionally yourself.
- Take the person to a quiet area to help him or her calm down and regain control.
- Acknowledge feelings and give the person a chance to talk about feelings.
- Provide feedback gently and supportively after the person gains control.
- Gently redirect attention to a different topic or activity.