Temper outbursts and irritability
Family members of individuals with TBI often describe the injured person as having a “short fuse,” “flying off the handle” easily, being irritable or having a quick temper. Studies show that up to 71% of people with TBI are frequently irritable. The injured person may yell, use bad language, throw objects, slam fists into things, slam doors, or threaten or hurt family members or others.
What causes this problem?
Temper outbursts after TBI are likely caused by several factors, including:
- Injury to the parts of the brain that control emotional expression.
- Frustration and dissatisfaction with the changes in life brought on by the injury, such as loss of one’s job and independence.
- Feeling isolated, depressed or misunderstood.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, expressing oneself or following conversations, all of which can lead to frustration.
- Tiring easily
What can be done about temper problems?
- Reducing stress and decreasing irritating situations can remove some of the triggers for temper outbursts and irritability.
- People with brain injury can learn some basic anger management skills such as self-calming strategies, relaxation and better communication methods. A psychologist or other mental health professional familiar with TBI can help.
- Certain medications can be prescribed to help control temper outbursts.
Family members can help by changing the way they react to the temper outbursts:
- Understand that being irritable and getting angry easily is due to the brain injury. Try not to take it personally.
- Do not try to argue with the injured person during an outburst. Instead, let him or her cool down for a few minutes first.
- Do not try to calm the person down by giving in to his or her demands.
- Set some rules for communication. Let the injured person know that it is not acceptable to yell at, threaten or hurt others. Refuse to talk to the injured person when he or she is yelling or throwing a temper tantrum.
- After the outburst is over, talk about what might have led to the outburst. Encourage the injured person to discuss the problem in a calm way. Suggest other outlets, such as leaving the room and taking a walk (after letting others know when he/she will return) when the person feels anger coming on.
Read the rest of this article at: Emotional Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury