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How brain injuries can affect emotional health and relationships

The one thing that every brain injury has in common is that exactly how the injury will manifest is unpredictable. Many people experience changes to their emotional and behavioral state that can make them seem like a whole different person.

This doesn't just affect the person with the brain damage. It also affects their relationships with their spouse and everyone else in their life.

Here are some common emotional problems related to brain injuries:

-- Anxiety and irritability

-- Depression and fatigue

-- The inability to tolerate frustration

-- Impaired judgment and impulsive actions

-- Social withdrawal and self-esteem issues

-- Problems sleeping or problems staying awake

-- Difficulty conforming to expectations at work or school

It's important to note that anyone, no matter what he or she was like prior to the brain injury, can suffer from drastic changes in mood or behavior. However, someone who already had a mood disorder or difficulty coping will often suffer in more pronounced ways.

For most victims, these changes don't occur in a vacuum. The brain injury victim has to contend with how his or her family, friends, boss and coworkers are going to react to the changes. The closer the relationship, the harder it can be for the other person involved to cope. The loss of who you once were, prior to your injury, may be felt very keenly by your close friends and family.

Spouses, for example, often report that they feel like they are married to a stranger. They also report feeling isolated and alone, as if the spouse they had prior to the injury has died. Spouses also often have to take on the responsibilities their brain-injured husband or wife used to handle -- which can put an incredible strain on any marriage.

If your brain injury was the result of someone else's negligence, it's important to discuss the possibility of a loss of consortium claim for your spouse at the same time you discuss a lawsuit for your own damages.

Your spouse may be entitled to fair compensation for the loss of your ability to provide emotional and physical comfort, including your inability to handle your share of the ordinary household duties.For specific advice related to your brain injury case, talk to an attorney today.

Source: Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey, "Emotional and Behavioral Changes Following Brain Injury," accessed March 29, 2017

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