7 Ways to Cope With Depression After a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Apr 10, 2023
7 Ways to Cope With Depression After a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Depression and other mental health concerns are common after TBIs, but learning ways to cope can help with successful rehabilitation and a more positive outlook. Read on to learn more.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can completely alter your life. You might have to relearn certain skills or adapt to new ways of processing thoughts and communicating. On top of changes in function, TBIs can also contribute to mental disorders that didn’t affect you before. 

Any brain injury that results in a change in how your brain works is a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and they’re usually caused by bumps or jolts to the head. You can also get a TBI from any injury that penetrates your brain. Unfortunately, TBIs are a leading cause of death worldwide. 

Depression, a mood disorder characterized by sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in life, is especially common after a TBI. You can also experience depression after a stroke. Additionally, TBI patients with depression are more likely to experience postconcussive symptoms, like headaches and cognitive impairment, than TBI patients who don’t experience post-TBI depression. 

The interdisciplinary team at Delaware NeuroRehab in Dover, Delaware, supports you as you adjust to the changes in your cognitive function following a TBI. That includes offering coping mechanisms for post-TBI depression. Here are seven approaches for post-TBI depression management:

1. Include exercise in your routine

Regular exercise provides immense benefits for your physical and mental wellness. Exercising causes a release of endorphins in your brain, which are feel-good hormones that counter pain and stress. 

Even light exercise can improve your depressive symptoms. If you’re not in shape to run a few miles, for example, a brisk walk will suffice. 

2. Use a social support system

Though depression might drive you to self-isolate, avoid the urge and ensure you have plenty of socialization in your life. Spend quality time with friends and family, or seek a support group with people who understand what you’re going through. 

3. Take antidepressants

Our team can prescribe antidepressants to treat your depression due to a TBI. Antidepressants improve mood, increase motivation, stimulate appetite, and improve sleep.

When taking antidepressants, follow our team’s instructions. Even if you start feeling better, it’s essential not to stop taking them without first consulting with our team.

4. Engage in therapy

Psychotherapy can be helpful when dealing with depression. Not only is it an opportunity to express how you’re feeling, but common approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you change how you think and feel. Counseling combined with antidepressants tends to be the most effective clinical approach for treating depression. 

5. Practice mindfulness or meditation

Meditating and other relaxation methods can ground you to avoid feeling stuck inside your head with negative thoughts. 

6. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows your brain function. Although your instinct might be to use alcohol to relax or have a good time, drinking too much can worsen your depression. Plus, your brain may be more sensitive to alcohol’s effects after a TBI. Drinking can also inhibit your recovery. It’s best to stay away from alcohol if you have post-TBI depression.

7. Treat your pain

You may experience pain after a TBI. Even if you have pain that’s unrelated to your TBI, the pain can aggravate your post-TBI depression and make symptoms worse. Work with our providers to find a pain management strategy that works for you. 

Get professional post-TBI care today

Our team can treat your post-TBI depression with professional services like behavioral counseling, medications, and other recommendations. Call Delaware NeuroRehab or book an appointment online for expert neurorehabilitative care today.