Did you know 3.8 million concussions occur every year in the United States? If you or someone you love has suffered from this form of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), you know they trigger physical symptoms such as head pain, nausea, and balance problems. But what about side effects that aren’t physical, like mood changes?
At MidJersey Orthopaedics (MJO), with four offices in Flemington, Bridgewater, and Washington, New Jersey, our team of specialists has the training and experience needed to manage concussions for patients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Our providers are also committed to patient education, so we’ve put together this guide about concussions and how they impact your mood.
When you experience a brain injury as the result of violent shaking, forceful impact, or a direct blow, the movements your body experiences may cause your brain to hit your skull. If this happens, you can develop a concussion.
Concussions aren’t usually life threatening, but the impact that causes them triggers chemical changes in your brain and can sometimes damage or stretch nerves and cells in the brain. These changes can affect normal brain function and cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Feeling of pressure in your head
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Memory or concentration problems
- Sensitivity to light, noise, or sound
- Feeling foggy, sluggish, or groggy
- Changes in sleep habits
Concussion can also affect the way you feel, triggering mood changes such as irritability or anxiety. It’s important to note that symptoms don’t always appear right away. It can take several days, and sometimes weeks, for them to appear.
The link between concussions and mood
Mood or personality changes are a common side effect of concussion, and they can remain long after your brain has physically healed from the injury that caused your condition. Both physiological changes and emotional reactions contribute to the development of mood or personality differences after concussion.
Concussions cause a disruption between your brain’s blood vessels and neurons, changing the way you process information and causing psycho-emotional changes. For nearly a third of concussion patients, this disruption causes changes in behavior, emotions, and mood to persist.
Mild TBIs can also affect the part of your brain responsible for memory, called the hippocampus, which helps you decide how to respond to the world or people around you.
When these connections are disrupted, or if your memory is affected by your injury, your emotional responses to similar stimulation may shift and sometimes be out of order with the reality of what’s happening, causing noticeable mood changes.
While the physiological connections injured by concussions usually heal in a few weeks, your mood changes may persist for longer. If you notice mood changes related to concussion in yourself or a loved one, don’t wait to seek help. The team at MidJersey Orthopaedics can help you manage concussion symptoms and get back to feeling like yourself again.
Symptoms of mood or emotional changes from concussion
Mood changes from concussion can be severe or subtle, but regardless of degree, they can interfere with recovery after a mTBI. It’s important to monitor for symptoms of mood or emotional changes from concussion, such as:
- Increased crying or weepiness
- Feelings of profound sadness
- Anxiety or unusual worry
- Feeling fatigued
- Lack of interest in enjoyable activities
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities
- Feeling irritable or quick to anger
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Mood swings
Mild emotional or mood changes in the first days or week following a concussion, like feeling irritable or easily frustrated, is common. However, if these symptoms are severe or if they continue after the first week, seek medical intervention with a team familiar with concussion.
If you’re concerned about mood changes related to concussion, contact MidJersey Orthopaedics. Call the office nearest your or request an appointment online today!