Anxiety disorders are found in about 30 per cent of patients after head injury, and are at least as common in those who have suffered mild injury. (47*
Early symptoms may be observed in relation to derealization/depersonalization symptoms, or perplexity. Early on, the amnesic period surrounding the injury may cause great distress. In the catastrophic reaction, which is observed in patients with moderate to severe cognitive impairment, sudden distress occurs when they fail to perform a task, or because of their inability to communicate.
Anxiety symptoms, particularly those with a mild head injury, may develop over the weeks and months following a head injury. It is then more likely to be associated with depression, post-concussion syndrome, and with post-traumatic stress disorder. Phobic avoidance is seen, for example travel anxiety following a road traffic accident. Apprehension is a common complaint, perhaps reflecting problems caused by cognitive impairments, and the person may be indecisive. Therefore anxiety symptoms may emerge on return to work. Anxiety symptoms will be inflated in the presence of financial or family stress.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a recognized sequela of head injury. This may partly reflect the inflexibility and rigidity of the brain-injured person, or a response to doubt resulting from memory disorder.
The risk of suicide is increased following head injury. In a study of Finnish soldiers who suffered brain injuries during the Second World War and were followed up for 25 years, 1.6 per cent had killed themselves, about a threefold greater risk than the general male population. (48) A meta-analysis of six civilian cohorts followed up over 40 years found a threefold risk compared with standard mortality rates.(49) The increased risk attributable to head injury is probably slightly less than these estimates.
Was this article helpful?
This guide Don't Panic has tips and additional information on what you should do when you are experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. With so much going on in the world today with taking care of your family, working full time, dealing with office politics and other things, you could experience a serious meltdown. All of these things could at one point cause you to stress out and snap.