Personality changes are not uncommon following a traumatic brain injury. After all, how we think and process the world is so much of who we are. Our temperament is virtually the way our brain explains the world around us. With a brain injury, the way we process and understand information will be disrupted. So we should not be surprised that our personality can change after a concussion.
Personality changes can originate from two sources following a brain injury:
- Specific changes in how the brain experiences, understands and expresses emotions. Making it hard to understand our feelings, or process them fully.
- Emotional reactions are a natural response to the changes in your life brought on by a brain injury.
Brain injuries can damage connections that go from the cerebral cortex (the part of the brain that has a role in memory, attention, perception, cognition, and awareness.) to the limbic system (the part of the brain that supports functions like emotions, behavior, and motivation).
These connections allow us to evaluate our emotional reactions, understand how important events are, and decide on a response that meets the demand of the situation. When these connections are injured, the emotional response differs from what it was before the injury, and are not always in sync with the current situation.
These changes make it challenging, not only for those who are injured but can also for those who love and care about the person who is injured. It is never easy to watch as someone you love and care about go through something difficult, and personality changes after a brain injury are changes that occur without warning and can be beyond our control.
Many times because the brain is also staying in fight or flight mode, it is hard to help your mind and body to relax, because your brain is trying to help you survive this injury and what has happened. This response is how the brain reacts even for even “mild” TBI or concussion. Any injury to the brain while it may not look severe on the outside, it should be taken seriously. Any damage or injury to the brain can impact your life in significant ways, especially your personality, and the way you process emotions.