*Anxiety impacts daily life or can arise in bouts
*Anxiety can obstruct rehabilitation
*Causes of anxiety and associated problems
*Can cause people to be obsessive in thoughts and actions
In many instances, anxiety stems from biological and chemical changes which occur after brain injury. In these cases, the source may feel unknown and will likely be resultant from unconscious fears – triggering in the same ways as PTSD.
The biochemical cascade, which occurs immediately following a brain injury, causes the adrenals to continuously fire due to the biological perception of stress and psychosomatic indicators, both of which can manifest as feeling anxious. The brain knows it is injured and creates unconscious nervousness resulting in the symptoms of anxiety.
Fatigue can also increase feelings of worry, and if not curbed, can lead to panic attacks.
Sometimes anxiety emerges as a result of a build-up of stress and may be caused by fear and worry or circling thoughts about unresolved personal issues. Many people get stuck in a spiral of constantly comparing themselves to how they were pre-injury. This desire to make sense of events can have a negative impact on self-esteem if not managed.
Because it can be so challenging to manage thoughts following a brain injury, it can be difficult for people to distinguish the details, and sometimes people feel overwhelmed with the way outcomes can impact each other. For example, anxiety can exacerbate the ability to concentrate or maintain attention and can affect the capacity to start or finish tasks. There can also be a cumulative effect on sleep patterns, getting to sleep, managing relationship, changes in appetite, and being able to take time out to enjoy hobbies and interests.
These symptoms of anxiety can appear as emotional or physical indications – or both. For example, people may become more irritable and less tolerant of others and could also show less interest in things. At times they may feel panicky, feel short of breath, or notice an increased heartbeat or palpitations.
Many people struggle with obsessive thinking where they become fixated on a problem and have difficulty finding resolutions.
For some people ‘talking therapies’ work well as this helps them break down their issues into more recognisable problems. Writing things down and sorting thoughts into a pros and cons list can help people be more able to qualify priorities.
There are many other ways to combat anxiety, such as reducing stress and addressing inflammation by using techniques like:
- mindfulness and meditation
- eating for nutrition/avoidance of inflammatory foods
- support of the gut microbiome
- using supplements
- other therapies and treatments
- life needs – exercise, daylight and activities such as tai chi or yoga
Many people know what helps them to relax and work on ways of being disciplined about putting time aside for themselves to maybe unwind in a hot bath or take a walk in the fresh air.
Anxiety coupled with depression can cause more severe symptoms such as having ruminating thoughts about self-harm or suicide. It is imperative that anyone experiencing this gets immediate medical support.
He says, “Why did this happen to me,” and realised this was a disempowering thought and found that what he needed was to switch to – ‘What am I going to do about it?”