What Triggers Frustration After a Brain injury

Posted on May 30, 2020

Frustration and anger are emotions that one feels under situations where they feel that they are not in control. Imagine this for a brain injury patient. Their life changes drastically on such short notice. The frustration and anger comes as a package with the brain injury irrespective of the victim’s prior anger patterns. This is because of the unexpected and inevitable changes in their entire routine from sleeping to eating to even changing clothes. 

Causes of Frustration

Communication Gap

A TBI victim often has difficulty conveying their message because it feels like words are slipping from their mind. They also misinterpret conversations, body language, and facial expressions that can cause misunderstandings and eventually anger the patient. 

Short Concentration Span

A brain injury can affect the parts of the brain that help in concentrating and focus. This can be evident by the lack of attention that a TBI victim can maintain. Minor inconveniences, like putting a thread through a needle or keeping up with the light conversation, can be very exhausting, which often makes the patient frustrated and angry. 

Short Term Memory

Forgetfulness is commonly attributed to brain injury. This is because the brain becomes weak and incapable of retaining information. When patients face this on a regular basis, it causes many hindrances and makes them feel angry. This includes forgetting where certain things are or losing track of time. It is most common during speech where they can’t grasp basic words and meanings. 


When the patient is unable to even accomplish the everyday task, it can really crush their self-esteem. They start hating themselves for being so incapable and confused all the time. Losing control is the main cause of frustration and losing control over the very fundamental activities like changing clothes or going to the bathroom can further aggravate the anger. 


It goes unsaid that a brain injury patient eventually has to depend on a caretaker or a family member for help. Going from being a working and independent person to being dependent on others can be very depressing. The pitiful stares and fragility that most love ones show often have an opposite effect and can greatly anger the patient. 

Changes in Lifestyle

The frustration is often triggered by the lack of sleep and movement as well. The whole schedule is disturbed, and adjusting to the changes can be quite cumbersome, which explains the frustration and mood swings of TBI and concussion victims. The pain and fatigue that come hand in hand with such injuries are also a major factor. Then the medications and abstinence from smoking and alcohol can further elevate the anger levels. 

Anger and frustration in such situations are not treatable but are more avoidable. However, they are not inevitable. It requires conscious efforts from both the patient and caretaker to help the patient cope up with the anger. It is an unfortunate side effect, but working upon this is also the first step to rehabilitation and recovery.