Can Serious Brain Injury Lead to Depression and Anger Outbursts?

There could be any number of causes for feeling angry and depressed. However, if you have recently sustained a traumatic brain injury, the cause may be quite clear. Brain trauma can often lead to severe mood swings and a lack of control over one’s emotions.

A traumatic brain injury is commonly referred to as a concussion. While not all blows to the head result in a concussion, many, especially severe ones, do. Any strong impact to the head can cause traumatic brain injury, but the symptoms and severity vary from person to person and from incident to incident. The immediate symptoms include loss of consciousness, post-traumatic amnesia, and disorientation. These symptoms will fade in all but the most severe of cases, but the damage sustained by the brain can also lead to lasting psychological effects, including outbursts of anger and depression.

Many patients who have undergone a traumatic brain injury will experience episodes of anger and depression as a part of the normal recovery process. This occurs because the area of the brain that regulates emotions will often undergo trauma during a head injury that does not allow it to function properly. Luckily, this is usually not a sign of permanent brain damage and the severe mood swings will fade as this part of the brain heals. Up to 66% of recovering concussion patients report increased irritability, with 63% reporting feelings of depression. These outbursts will sometimes not surface until several weeks after the initial trauma, despite being a direct result of injury to the brain.

Generally, mood swings and negative emotions resulting from a brain trauma will fade naturally within three to six months. Your doctor will probably monitor you during this period to insure your recovery is going well, but additional treatment is not usually required to alleviate these psychological symptoms. However, the anger and depression caused by a concussion can be quite severe and may serious affect your life. Many patients feel like they have completely lost control of their emotions after experiencing a concussion. If this is the case, there are treatment options available to help calm these psychological issues while your brain recovers. It’s important to remember that this is a normal part of your recovery and allow yourself time to slowly reintegrate yourself back in to your normal routine.

However, if you are experiencing long lasting emotional issues that began after receiving a traumatic brain injury, consult with a physician or psychiatrist. Unfortunately, anger and depression resulting from a concussion often goes undiagnosed as the cause is unable to be determined, but there are specific features of the nature of this anger that can help you pinpoint the cause. The rage that results from brain trauma differs from normal anger in that the rages are often without cause irrational, and cannot be tempered by reason. If you experience severe negative emotions after the traditional recovery period has expired, your doctor will likely prescribe medication that will alleviate your symptoms and allow you to resume your normal life.


  1. My soon to be exhusband suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury when he was 15. I met him at age twenty eight. He had mood swings at the drop of a hat. One minute he would hug me, next moment he would be squeezing me so hard I screamed. I was so afraid of him. I got him into a psychiatrist because he heard voices and things that weren’t there. He went off the medication. I left him to protect our two children. I am so sad that his family who knows he is abusive and has volatile anger issues won’t help him. But hey his sister shared this page, so she knows he has severe problems. Even though she sat with him in court when he claimed he only lost his sense of smell from being in a six week coma.

  2. Anger & Depression Admin says

    Hello Nikki, you share such a sad story. Traumatic events such as yours can truly leave emotional scars for the rest of your and your children’s life. I read somewhere that usually people with personality disorders are the only ones in the family that do not take their meds, everyone else has to. Personally I think you’re still fortunate that you’ll be able to gain some distance from your husband and will be able to lead a better quality of life. As far as your husband, his plight seems to be even worse than yours, having such a condition makes one a social outcast so I do hope he’ll find ways to cope with it and keep it under control. Anyways, thanks for the note and I wish you all the best.

  3. I’ve had a thought that my near violent outburst that often will happen under some rather irrational reasons were the result of concussions. Ive had sveral bangs to my had when I was younger, one left me with a scar on my eyebrow. Often when I fly into a rage I am angry for the sake of being angry. I know the reasons are not logical, as well I just can’t let go of the emotion, almost being wrapped in it.
    It would be nice if I could have an official diagnosis. However I can’t afford such a thing at this time. I just hope I do get some help, as it worries me how far it will go and what damage I might inflict, on myself or others.

    • Anger & Depression Admin says

      Hello Nik, as you see, research shows that brain trauma and injuries can cause neurological damage that can further stimulate undesirable psychological events. Where do you live? There are always free clinics around, sometimes even decent specialists. Meanwhile, when you feel a wave of anger outburst coming start breathing deep into your stomach. No matter what you are doing you can always breath… just remember to breath deep! This will help you calm down faster and reset your balance.
      Stay optimistic, you can solve this as our brains have excellent neuroplasticity, meaning it can rewire itself and your condition is very likely to improve. Keep in touch.

  4. Karina Alvarado says

    When I was 18, I was in a car accident that left me in a coma for 15 days. When I went back home, I met the most wonderful man who married me a year later. I get angry a lot and then make him angry. I always invent things worse than what I hear or see. I can even make up whole sentences on what I think someone said. My husband use to be so calm when met him. I ran his patience dry! I don’t know what to do, doctors haven’t helped much.

    • Anger & Depression Admin says

      Hello Karina, don’t lose hope, it is very possible that your brain injury is playing a role in the anger outbursts but this could be determined only by a professional. In general, you could take steps to to take the edge off, find ways to calm yourself and train to respond differently. What doctors have you seen?

  5. I had a stroke December 2013. It affected the right temporal part of my brain and left a large blood clot. I now have severe outbursts of anger at times and feel out of control. My doctor has me on keppra since after the stroke I was diagnosed with seizure disorder and clodipine as well as depokote for outbursts but im still having them. my physician is a neurosurgeon but seems at a lost as what to do and my husband is ready to leave me. I just want to be happy again and not lose my husband. I feel alone and need any suggestions. thanks, dana

    • Anger & Depression Admin says

      Hello Dana, I am not a doctor but from I’ve read you exhibit signs of a damaged brain. If your brain is not healed you will have difficulties with self control. Brain is a complicated matter but if I were you I’d dive into books on how to heal your brain, diet, exercises etc. You’ll need to invest a lot of time into this and be very patient. I have a feeling you can fix this issue, just dig deeper and learn all you can about your condition.

      Do the anger outbursts seem to appear out of nowhere (for example all is quiet and you’re reading a book) or more driven by conditions to which you feel oversensitive (driving a car, someone cuts you off)? All I can think of right now is mild exercise and some yoga or stretches to calm down your nerves and give you more power to cope with the challenges at hand until your brain is repaired or has adapted to the new wiring so to speak. Keep in touch. All the best to you.

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