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Can a TBI Cause PTSD?

Despite their similar symptoms, people oftentimes talk about the effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as if they were mutually exclusive conditions - which, in many cases, they are. But did you know that individuals who suffer a TBI actually have a higher risk of developing PTSD? Depending on the severity of trauma and the circumstances in which a person suffers a TBI, brain damage can cause individuals to develop PTSD-like symptoms.

In a study conducted by researchers from UCLA published in Biological Psychiatry in 2012, scientists found that animals that suffered from concussive brain trauma were more vulnerable to fear conditioning than those who had not received any prior injuries. Upon examining the animals' amygdala, the fear-processing center of the brain, researchers discovered that the animals who suffered brain injuries had significantly higher numbers of receptors for transmitters that promote learning. In other words, brain trauma caused the amygdala to stay in a more excitable state in which it is more ready to process fear-inducing stimuli.

This phenomenon is particularly prevalent in military service members and police officers who have been exposed to brain trauma through explosions or gunshot wounds. Likewise, civilians who suffer from TBIs in traumatic events such as car accidents or construction accidents are also prone to developing PTSD.

Do I Have a TBI, PTSD, or Both?

Many of the symptoms of a TBI overlap with the common reactions after trauma that are associated with PTSD. In many cases, it can be difficult to distinguish which condition a patient may have, as the brain's complex functions are often intertwined and reinforce each other. If you have experienced a blow or any sort of considerable force to the head, it is imperative you seek a comprehensive medical evaluation immediately. While many treatments for PTSD have been known to work well for those suffering from TBI, certain medications and treatments for TBI can in fact be harmful to PTSD patients.

Symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Repeated flashbacks and memories of the life-threatening event
  • Avoidance of people, places, and sounds that are reminders
  • Detachment from friends, family, and emotional numbness
  • Survivors guilt, especially if the event resulted in a fatality
  • Constant alertness against possible threats

Conversely, a TBI can be manifested through the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety, fear, or nervousness
  • Uncharacteristic changes in personality
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty articulating thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to lights and sounds

Injured? Contact Berenson & Associates Today

If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or have developed post-traumatic stress disorder following a preventable accident, know that you may have grounds to pursue compensation for your suffering. At Berenson & Associates, P.C., our knowledgeable Albuquerque brain injury attorney has nearly 20 years of personal injury experience and can provide the strong representation you need to ensure your rights are asserted.

Call (505) 559-4117 or schedule a confidential consultation today to get started.

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Albuquerque, NM 87102

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