Dr. Samuel Clanton: Can Emotional Changes Indicate a Brain Injury?

When the topic of brain injury surfaces, the focus often shifts to physical repercussions—balance issues, headaches, or motor skill problems. Less visible but equally impactful are the emotional and psychological changes that can indicate a brain injury. Dr. Samuel Clanton will shed light on the emotional shifts that may accompany brain injuries.


Behind the Veil of Physical Symptoms

Brain injuries are insidious, often leaving the most profound impacts beneath the surface. Alongside the spectrum of physical signs that we can observe and measure, numerous emotional modifications alter the injured person’s personal experience.

Understanding the Link Between Brain Injury and Emotional Changes

The brain does not serve solely as the center for cognitive functioning and instinctual responses; it is also the crucible for emotional processing and regulation. An injury to areas like the frontal lobe, amygdala, or other parts involved in emotional control can manifest in a complex array of behavioral and emotional symptoms.

Emotional Symptoms as Early Indicators

The onset of unexpected emotional responses to daily interactions or situations can signal that a brain injury has occurred. It is not unusual to experience sudden mood changes, irritability, or a pervasive sense of apathy post-injury. Recognizing these changes can be pivotal, as they might present even before the more recognizable physical symptoms become apparent.

Detecting The Change

Awareness of nuanced shifts in emotional demeanor is crucial, as it’s often loved ones or close affiliates who first notice these aberrations. Changes can include an increase in frustration over trivial matters, uncharacteristic episodes of anger, or unexpected bouts of tearfulness. Regulation of emotions becomes challenging, and the person may experience swings from one mood to another without clear provocation.

The Spectrum Of Emotional Manifestations

  • Depression and Anxiety – These two conditions often go hand-in-hand with brain injuries.  Samuel Clantonstates that they are not only responses to the injury but also direct symptoms, stemming from the brain’s struggle to function as it did previously.
  • Changes in Social Behavior – Social withdrawal or indifference towards relationships or activities once enjoyed can be indicative of a brain injury. These alterations can stem from the brain’s compromised ability to interpret and respond to social cues post-injury.
  • Personality Shifts – Significant changes in personality traits can be particularly unsettling. A typically outgoing person may become withdrawn, or someone known for their patience might now have a short fuse. These personality shifts suggest changes in brain function.

Emotional Disturbances in Younger Populations

The task becomes more complex when evaluating youngsters and teens, as their brains are still developing and their emotional maturity is evolving. Nevertheless, sudden aggression, a noticeable decrease in interest in social interaction, or changes in school performance should raise concerns about a potential brain injury.

The Role of Professional Assessment

When these emotional symptoms are evident, especially following a traumatic event that could have affected the brain, professional assessment becomes crucial. Mental health professionals often use a combination of interviews, observational assessments, and questionnaires to evaluate the person’s emotional state, which can help in diagnosing a brain injury.

Steps in Recovery and Rehabilitation

Finally, once a brain injury is diagnosed, Dr. Samuel Clanton states that emotional and psychological rehabilitation becomes vital in the recovery plan. Counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or medication may be applied to treatment, addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of the injury.