Personality Changes Following A Brain Injury

Individuals suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury do not only have to contend with the physical effects of the intracranial injury; they also have to face the harsh reality of changes in their emotional, psychological, behavioral, and even social states. Not only do they have to face these personality changes, their families and loved ones must be prepared to give them the kind of support that they need in this sudden change in their lives. Support must start with knowledge of the personality changes that can occur following brain injury.


Most individuals with TBIs often have difficulty concentrating, focusing, and reasoning. This prevents them from effectively performing the tasks that are expected of them. This is also what can make them feel very anxious. In some cases especially when the TBI was the direct result of a deeply traumatic event, the anxiety can progress rapidly into post-traumatic stress disorder which may require a more holistic approach to its management. Time pressures, crowded environments, and even noisy children can somehow trigger anxiety in people with TBIs.

Mood swings

Known as emotional lability, mood swings are a frequent consequence of brain injury especially when the injured part involves the area of the central nervous system that controls behavior and emotions. One will have to evaluate whether what is being observed is true emotional lability or simply acting out. Oftentimes, mood swings occur for no apparent reason at all. For instance, you may see the person suddenly burst in laughter even without any triggering event or even in the absence of something to laugh about. The same is true with sudden crying.


This is exactly the opposite of anxiety. It is actually a feeling of sadness and is generally considered as a normal physiologic response to any type of injury. However, prolonged depression or depression that manifests several months after the injury is typically considered pathological already. It can be brought about by both physical and biochemical changes in the brain.

Irritability or emotional outburst

This should not be confused with emotional lability or mood swings. Going on emotional outbursts or having a very short fuse can be attributed to damage to that part of the brain that controls the expression of emotions. Dissatisfaction as well as frustration with the changes that one experiences in life because of the injury can also lead to emotional outbursts that can include yelling, throwing objects, using bad or foul language, threatening harm, or even hurting other people including family members.

Memory issues

If the injury to the brain primarily affected the region that controls memory, the individual may have issues in memory processing and recall. This can be quite frustrating not only to the individual but also the others around him or her. It can lead to problems with ones social relationships as well as work productivity which, in turn, can become a source of anxiety or depression again.

These are just some of the personality changes that people can experience after brain injury. Most of these are directly related to the loss of function of that part of the brain that controls these emotions, cognitions, and behavior.