Quick Facts

  • Feeling down, sad, or worried for a short time after a distressing event is normal
  • Depression however, includes: feelings of sadness, a depressed mood, or a loss of interest/pleasure that lasts for more than two weeks

What does it
look like?

  • Fatigue, changes in weight/appetite, sleep problems, feeling weak or physically tired
  • Loss of interest in activities, social isolation or withdrawal
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Difficulty with concentration and motivation, performance may fall below their capabilities
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Individual may have intense feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, and confusion
  • May be unable to see positive qualities in oneself
  • The injured person may express:
    • Thoughts of low self-esteem
    • Hopelessness and despair
    • Suicidal thoughts and feelings

Possible Causes and Complications

Possible causes:

  • Damage to the brain’s emotional control regions
  • Individual gaining insight into how brain injury has changed them
  • The individual may experience a sense of grief due to loss of:
    • Skills they used to have (e.g. cooking, playing sports, drawing, etc.)
    • Independence (e.g. dressing themselves, driving)
    • Lifestyle (e.g. friends no longer include the individual in activties)
    • Career (e.g. unable to go back to work or have the same job)
    • Companionship (e.g. may lose friends, intimate relationships)

Possible complicaitons:

  • Individual may isolate themselves and eventually become disconnected from their friends and family
  • The completion of rehabilitation activities may be difficult and as a result lead to a slower recovery

What can we do?

  • If you believe the individual’s daily life is being impacted by their depressive symptoms, contact their primary care physician for direction concerning medications and therapies that may help
  • Try to understand how the individual is feeling, as this can provide insight when dealing with any challenging behaviour
  • Listen and talk with the individual about how they are feeling, acknowledge that it is reasonable to feel depressed due to the trauma they have been through
  • Watch for signs of alcohol or drug misuse

Encourage individual to:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Engage in an enjoyable activity or hobby
  • Eat nutritiously
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
  • Follow a routine and stay involved in social activities
  • Focus on what is in their control
  • Request help when needed
  • Accept support from others
  • Seek counselling, support groups, or other therapies

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace advice from a medical doctor. Consult a health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.