Emotional Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury – Temper outbursts and irritability

aggressionFrom MSKTC

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
  • Pain

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

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Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

3 thoughts on “Emotional Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury – Temper outbursts and irritability”

  1. Hi! Neurofeedback worked for my daughter to reduce the outbursts. We still have our conflicts (it is inevitable in the teen years), but I think they are much reduced even compared to an adolescent without a brain injury (just my personal experience raising another daughter too). If I am drivthe my and can’t remove myself from the situation, I let her know my feelings are hurt and I cannot discuss her frustrations right now, but I am willing to park if she needs to calmly discuss them or is the tension is rising and I won’t be able to safely drive. All other situations, I encourage her to find somewhere to cool off since I feel that is what she would have to do in the future when she is on her own. I just don’t think others will be able to or should be expected to accommodate aggression–and it would affect her future opportunities and/or relationships. She has learned and adjusting all the way along the recovery process, so why not here when she has both so much to lose if the aggression is out of control and so much to gain if she can recognize the antecedents to the behavior and modify the reaction.

    Anyways…track season now and working through injuries, though she also met a personal goal for the season in her first race out. School is hectic, but she has been talking through her frustrations and learning better time management skills, which will only help her when she eventually gets to college.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Drivthe” = driving

    That was a weird autocorrect by my phone.
    Sorry about that–if I don’t have my reading glasses it is much harder for me to catch those sort of silly errors when they occur.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t have a temper issue…(no really) but I do have a low tolerance for dealing with idiots, fools asshats, etc. I get a miagraine and get grumpy, not in that order. If someone or somewhere is a cause of the Grumpy I will illuminate people that make it harder for me to cope. But you would be aware all brain injuries are different.

    Liked by 1 person

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