Anger is a frequent symptom for people with traumatic brain injury (TBI). From one-third to one-half will struggle with it at some point in their recovery. Adapting to frustration and anger is a problem for people without brain injuries, but TBI anger can escalate to levels that endanger a person’s ability to hold a job or sustain relationships.

The anger after a brain injury stems from two primary sources:

  1.  The injury itself can damage the part of the brain that controls emotional activity. Damage to the frontal lobe region can make it harder to control emotional expression, and to consider appropriate responses to conflict.
  2. Anger can be triggered by the frustration with the daily limitations and other emotional problems. There may also be a defined period of anger as the person cycles through the grief reaction to such a traumatic change to their life and abilities. Fatigue and pain can also trigger angry outbursts.

Anger problems can generally be expected to improve after the initial months of recovery.
Experts advise patients, and loved ones, to accept anger as a somewhat “normal” reaction to the attack on the body and the patient’s former way of life. Don’t try to deny it or wish it away. Instead, focus on anger management.

Treatment for anger

It may be possible to use medications to stabilize the emotions that trigger anger. In addition, learning adaptive skills can be very effective. Patients can learn to remind themselves that in the moment, they should stop, and seek a quiet area where they can regain control.

Anger-management tools like relaxation and self-calming skills can be practiced and put to use. The patient can also discuss these with loved ones, and give them permission to remind them to use them during an outburst. These skills can include a time out, listening to music, taking a walk, etc.

Counseling for family members and loved ones can also help. They can learn not to take these reactions personally, and learn not to react. They can learn to stay calm, be supportive afterwards, and then redirect the focus to a new topic.

How A Brain Injury Lawyer Can Help You

If you’ve sustained a brain injury because of an accident that was caused by someone else, you may want to contact a brain injury lawyer. While we cannot change what has happened to you, we can help you to obtain compensation for the proper medical care you need now and may need in the future.