When television shows or movies want to depict a traumatic brain injury (TBI), they often show people bleeding from the nose or dramatically losing consciousness. While those symptoms do occur, the early warning signs and lasting symptoms of brain injuries are often less obvious.
For example, one of the more commonly reported long-term consequences of TBIs is a significant change in mood, personality or behavior. Someone who was previously driven and career-focused might become depressive and introverted. There have even historically been cases of people who have committed crimes because of brain injuries or started speaking in other languages.
Compared with balance issues, cognitive issues, memory problems or sleep disruptions, changes in how someone acts may seem like minor issues. While a change in mood or personality may not be innately debilitating, it can still lead to massive upheaval in someone’s life.
Mood and personality changes strain relationships
The longer people have known one another, the more predictable their interactions become. Spouses who have been together for several decades know exactly how the other will respond in certain situations.
After a TBI, someone’s emotional responses or overall behavior patterns can shift dramatically, making the people around them feel unsafe, uncomfortable or frustrated. Many people maintain specific relationships and friendships because they know and love a person’s innate inner self. They may struggle to adjust to someone who seems like an entirely different person.
Behavioral changes can also affect someone career
You don’t have to experience cognitive impairment from a brain injury for it to negatively affect your job performance. Personality changes can absolutely impact your career success. You need the right kind of personality to be a successful manager, salesperson or executive.
Even if most people view the personality changes as positive, they could still have a damaging effect on someone’s job performance or upward trajectory in their career. Someone no longer able to control their temper could struggle to earn gratuities in a customer service setting, while someone who was previously aggressive during conflicts may struggle to resolve issues on the job if they have become more passive.
Understanding how even seemingly benign symptoms of traumatic brain injuries can affect you will make it easier for you to predict the long-term consequences of the injury on your life.