Could addressing both our physical and mental health result in healing the root cause of emotional problems after a mild traumatic brain injury?

Years of medical research continues to define the role our endocrine system has in our physical and emotional health.  Our hormones are the basis of our feelings and emotions.  Emotional problems after brain injury, in addition to many new health troubles, can soon follow if the hypothalamic-pituitary axis and endocrine system were damaged.  However, in several occurrences of mild concussions, emotional problems could resolve a few months after the injury.

When our nervous system is healthy, electrical impulses throughout the brain and body play a significant role in our ability to communicate effectively.  The endocrine system continually interacts with the nervous system, helping the body maintain homeostasis.  After a mild traumatic brain injury, the nervous system could begin to weaken because the brain and the body’s ability to sustain balance has faltered.   If endocrine conditions deteriorate, adrenal insufficiency causing elevated cortisol levels, electrolyte imbalances, and additional hormone decline can worsen an existing problem.

Chronic pain from physical injuries can also contribute to the changes in our emotions.  When damage to the brain and body occurs, injuries to soft tissues and many other co-existing factors can weaken our entire emotional network.

Despite patients’ efforts to communicate their troubles with ongoing emotional volatility and declining health, some conventional doctors may conduct no further testing for patients after a certain period has passed from the original injury.  A referral to an endocrine specialist knowledgeable in the neuroendocrine effects of traumatic brain injury could point many patients in the right direction.

Physicians often recommend that patients address emotional problems through traditional counseling, psychiatric therapy, medications, and support groups.  Using medications to balance emotional problems after a traumatic brain injury may help some patients; however, unpleasant side effects can occur along with the challenges of proper dosing.  Medications can also mask the root of the problem.

Several therapeutic benefits come from working with a professional therapist knowledgeable in the after-effects of traumatic brain injuries or associated conditions such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety. Brain injury support groups offer ongoing education, helpful resources, and encouragement.  Participants find hope by meeting others who share similar journeys, a lifelong friendship may follow.

While every therapy choice has its benefits, addressing the root cause of emotional problems after a traumatic brain injury can involve several options.  Functional health medical physicians may approach traumatic brain injury patients with a multi-modality method to include an anti-inflammatory diet, specific supplements, and an exercise program to reduce neuroinflammation.  Restoring the health of the endocrine system, adrenal glands, gut-brain axis, vagus nerve, and adapting a functional nutrition program can offer many patients an excellent foundation for recovery.