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Brain injuries, mood swings and emotional lability

A traumatic brain injury is a physical event. It involves the tearing, bruising or bleeding of brain tissues, in addition to the death of brain tissues. This results in physical and outwardly visible consequences, including impairment of muscles, paralysis, memory loss, verbal communication issues, pain, numbness and more. Also, however, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can result in severe psychological and emotional dysfunction.

Because the brain controls our behavior and emotions, a brain injury can interfere with emotions in a TBI victim, resulting in mood swings and challenges with emotional control. Emotional issues relating to TBI may involve someone who gets upset or angers quickly, then gets over the problem quickly. A person could go from happy, to sad, to angry very quickly -- experiencing what is known as 'emotional lability.'

In many cases, there is no actual event that triggers these intense emotional reactions. This can confuse friends, family members, spouses and romantic partners. It can become especially hard to understand someone suffering from emotional lability when the individual's emotional reaction does not match the situation -- like crying during a funny movie, or laughing when a situation is sad. It's important to note that the TBI victim has no control over these emotional responses.

In most cases, symptoms of emotional lability wane after the first several months of recovery. The brain will usually find its emotional balance again. Medications can also help. In addition, family members of the TBI victim may benefit from counseling to assist them in coping with the person.

Unfortunately, many California victims of roadway accidents suffer from TBI as a result of the collision. Motorcyclists and their passengers are especially vulnerable to TBI. If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury, the costs of medical care and other medical services will be expensive and largely unaffordable. However, the successful navigation of a personal injury claim against the party responsible for the injuries could bring much-needed financial support to pay for this medical care.

Source:, "Emotional Problems After Traumatic Brain Injury," Tessa Hart, PhD and Keith Cicerone, PhD, accessed March 01, 2017

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