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Overall, symptoms from brain injuries are complex and may appear as mental disorders, causing confusion among mental health professionals.  The DSM-5 (2013) states that TBI can result in bipolar disorder, depressive disorders, dissociative amnesia, hoarding disorder, neurocognitive disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, psychotic disorders, and stress related disorders.  The DSM-5 outlines the associated features of TBI may be accompanied by disturbances in:

Emotional function (e.g., irritability, easy frustration, tension and anxiety, affective lability); personality changes (e.g., disinhibition, apathy, suspiciousness, aggression); [and] physical disturbances (e.g. headache, fatigue, sleep disorders, vertigo or dizziness, tinnitus or hyperacusis, photosensitivity, anomia, reduced tolerance to psychotropic medications) (p. 625).

Equally important to note, these symptoms can decrease the quality of life for those suffering from mTBI.  In a statewide study presented by Whiteneck et al. (2016), residents were questioned about the impact their TBI’s had on their daily activities and quality of life by using the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the 5-item Diener Satisfaction with Life Scale.  Results from this study showed that mTBI’s affect the victim’s daily activities by 79% to 179% and result in a low satisfaction of life by 78% to 111% when compared to those who do not have this injury.  Additionally, mTBI has been found to increase the risk of suicidal ideation by 6.3% just three months following the injury and 8.2% six months following their injury.  With just 3% of the general population contemplating suicide, mTBI can double or nearly triple suicidal ideation (Bethune, da Costa, van Niftrik, & Feinstein, 2016).  For mental health professionals, this means paying close attention to their clients who suffer from mTBI in knowing they are at a higher risk for suicidal tendencies even after the traditional recovery period for mTBI.  While it may seem that the patient has recovered from the cognitive deficits presented by the injury, more emotional factors can linger on.


Bethune, A., da, C. L., van, N. C. H. B., & Feinstein, A. (2016). Suicidal Ideation After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Consecutive Canadian Sample. Archives of Suicide Research, 1-11. doi:

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

Whiteneck, G. G., Cuthbert, J. P., Corrigan, J. D., & Bogner, J. A. (2016). Prevalence of self-reported lifetime history of traumatic brain injury and associated disability: A statewide population-based survey. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 31(1). doi:10.1097/HTR.0000000000000140