Photo: Anxiety, Depression, and Brain Injury

Anxiety, Depression, and Brain Injury

Anxiety and depression are the two most commonly experienced mental health concerns both in the general population and in individuals who have experienced a brain injury.14 Anxiety and Depression can occur independently, but they often occur together. Both anxiety and depression can be both amplified by and a symptom of brain injury, which can make distinguishing between the three difficult, particularly in IPV survivors.

Sometimes anxiety and depression resolve on their own following a TBI as the brain recovers. However, brain injuries can impact experiences of anxiety or depression and vice versa. For example, depression and physical symptoms of TBI such as headache, pain, and fatigue tend to exacerbate one-another if left untreated.15 This emphasizes the need to identify both the depression or anxiety and TBI when working with survivors so they can get appropriate treatments and supports.

“Well, I think most of the women that we have worked with that have experienced IPV and BI also have another sort of significant mental health thing happening for them…there's almost always seem to be some concurrent thing around depression, anxiety. And I think, you know, of course there's so many interconnections around mood regulation that can happen from a brain injury that can also look like a mental health disorder that could also be both of these things at once.” – Front line worker

Anxiety and depression can impact many aspects of a survivor’s life, including parenting and employment. Frontline workers and survivors have emphasized the importance of looking at brain injury and mental health together to better address survivors’ needs.

“When women come in with mood dysregulation, when women come in with significant depression or anxiety, are you thinking intimate partner violence there, are you thinking that maybe this is an injury to the brain that could be factoring in? … If a woman is coming out of a relationship that's been abusive there's a high likelihood that this is not just the impacts of trauma on the brain, this is actually an injury to the brain.” – Transition Housing Manager


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