People with TBI often become anxious. The causes of anxiety can be wide ranging, and often occur as a direct result of the brain injury itself (the region of the brain affected) or of the sudden life changes that occur as a result of the TBI. Anxiety sometimes goes hand-in-hand with depression or other emotional and behavioral effects of TBI.
What might you see?
- Constant physical tension
- Excessive worry or racing thoughts
- Feeling jumpy, irritable, or restless
- Racing heart, dry mouth, excess sweating, shakiness, or feeling short of breath
- Feeling panic or having a sense that something bad is going to happen
How can you help?
- Work with the service member or veteran to recognize problems that they may be worried about. Use problem-solving techniques to address them. This can help put the issue into perspective and help alleviate some or all of their anxiety.
- Suggest that the service member or veteran write things down or keep a journal. Sometimes this alone can be calming and can slow down racing and nervous thoughts.
- Use redirection (in other words, try to change the topic or focus of interest to something else).
- Encourage them to engage in physical activity.
- Ask the service member or veteran to talk with a provider about medications for anxiety. Counseling may also help.
- The healthcare team may suggest other ways to reduce anxiety. These could include relaxation training, controlled breathing exercises, and other coping strategies. If they do recommend any of these techniques, practice these strategies with the service member or veteran on a regular basis.