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Social and emotional changes

Depression and lowered self-esteem

Depression

Feelings of sadness, frustration, and loss are common after a brain injury. These feelings are often seen during the later stages of recovery, when they’re less confused and have better self-awareness. If these feelings grow or affect recovery, they may become depressed.

Depression can happen as they adjust to a disability caused by a brain injury. It can also happen if the injury was to parts of the brain that control emotions.

Information for family and caregivers

Please let their healthcare provider know if you think they’re depressed. For other resources and help, visit Addiction & Mental Health or call the Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642.

If they ever say they want to die or hurt themselves, call 911 right away.

Find out more about depression and how it’s managed.

Lowered self-esteem

How you see yourself (self-esteem) is often affected by a brain injury. The more aware you are after a brain injury, the more likely there will be changes in how you see yourself.

Tips for family and caregivers

These are good steps toward understanding and helping to raise the self-esteem of someone with a brain injury:

  • Focus on things they can do, any progress they’ve made, and why they’re important to you.
  • Let them express their feelings. Give caring and realistic feedback.
  • Tell them you’re concerned and want to try to understand what they‘re feeling.
  • Point out their successes.
  • Let them do things on their own as much as possible.
  • Help them plan ahead so their plans are more likely to work out.
  • Choose activities and tasks that they can do well.
  • Learn as much as possible about brain injuries.
  • Be patient and kind.

Find out more about building self-esteem.​

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