Your buddy seemed so positive after his car accident. He was tired and confused, but he knew he might never have made it through at all—and he was happy for every visit you paid him. But now whenever you drop by, it seems like he can’t wait to get rid of you. He rarely answers his phone, and his calls last only a few minutes. Is this a common behavior after a car accident, or is something really wrong?
Depression is a common occurrence for brain injury victims. Patients may be frustrated at their lack of improvement, angered by their limitations, or are simply overwhelmed by the daily difficulties of their injury. No matter what the cause, victims may become withdrawn, stop eating, or even stay in bed for days as their feelings of helplessness overtake them.
What Can I Do to Help?
If you suspect that your friend or family member is suffering from depression after a brain injury, you should try one or more of the following:
- Checking in. Brain injury victims often feel alone because nobody around them can understand what they are going through. Make it clear that you aren’t going anywhere: make a daily phone call, drop by once or twice a week, and make sure you listen to him talk. Try to get him interested in social events or hobbies he used to enjoy. Although his recovery may take month or years, recovery times are drastically shortened when a patient has a strong support system.
- Reaching out. Survivors often isolate themselves because they do not know how to deal with the problems they are having. Seek out a brain injury support group in your area that has patients in your friend’s age group and injury type, and encourage him to attend a session. Patients who can see and hear the frustrations and successes of other survivors will often feel better just knowing that there are others out there in the same situation. These group sessions are also a good way for patients to share their experiences, tell stories, and ask questions to find out how others cope with specific issues.
- Treatment. If your friend has not eaten in several days or has talked about suicide, you should take him to a doctor right away. Your friend may need hospitalization, medication, or additional interventions before he will be ready to cope with his condition.
The best thing you can do for your friend is to be supportive, patient, and understanding. If your friend is afraid to ask for help on his own, you can encourage him with links to our related articles and the reviews our clients have given us on our testimonials page. Send him a link to this story to help him see how we have helped brain injury victims with problems just like his get justice in the past.