Fighting Depression Post Traumatic Brain Injury
Depression is common among Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) survivors. The risk of depression after a TBI increases whether the injury is mild, moderate, or severe. It can develop as the person starts to understand the full impact of their injury. This realization can lead to feelings of hopelessness and altered self-esteem and identity as the survivor reflects over the changes that they are facing, and may continue to face in the future.
Research shows that when people without any prior mental health concerns or history of depression suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury, their risk for depression increases significantly. Some studies suggest that the risk for developing depression following a TBI may be two to five times higher than in the rest of the population. Unfortunately, researchers have not determined specific factors that cause depression after brain injuries or when it usually starts. Some people experience depression right after their injury, while others develop it a year or more later.
Many different factors contribute to depression after TBI, and these vary a great deal from person to person. Depression may result from injury to the areas of the brain that control emotions. Changes in the levels of certain natural chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, can cause depression. Depression can also arise as a person struggles to adjust to temporary or lasting disability and losses or role changes within the family and society. Some people have a higher risk for depression due to inherited genes, personal or family history, and other influences that were present before the brain injury.
Prior to suffering a TBI, Tim led a care free, easy-going life. He loved having fun and enjoying life, working full-time as an ironworker. Some of his favorite activities were riding his motorcycle and playing cards with friends. He and his girlfriend were even talking marriage.
An auto accident in June 2019 changed all that. Following the accident, Tim was hospitalized for two weeks, most of which he has absolutely no memory of. He then spent two weeks in a rehab facility recovering from his physical injuries. He remembers something not feeling right in the front part of his brain. He did not laugh and was unable to cry. Depression set in as these negative feelings began controlling his mood. He stated that, “I didn’t care about anything, even though I knew I should. I was just existing, going through the motions.”
Unfortunately for Tim, he began losing more than his emotions. He lost his girlfriend and some friends in the process when his depression began to affect his relationships as they were not able to understand his condition. He looked fine on the outside. However, Tim was anything but fine on the inside and it was shaping up to be a rough road to recovery.
Tim began experiencing memory loss. He was forgetting things that he knew he should know and remember. He began seeing a counselor and psychologist. He became frustrated with that process as he felt they just wanted to keep changing his medications. He felt like he was spinning his wheels in all his sessions. Nothing was helping.
Tim’s life reached a new low point in June 2021 when he had a close encounter with a semi-truck. Even though he avoided an accident, the emotional trauma from the event completely shook him to his core. He relapsed and suffered a bout of manic depression. He began getting in trouble with the authorities, despite having no memory of the incidences. No amount of medication was working. In fact, Tim and his family feel it was making things worse.
After struggling with these feelings for over two years, Tim’s family finally sought help from the Amen Clinic, one of the world leaders in applying brain imaging science to help people who struggle with emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. They performed a Brain SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) on Tim. SPECT is a state-of-the-art brain mapping tool that can give psychiatrists more information to help their patients more effectively. SPECT is a nuclear medicine study that is proven to reliably evaluate blood flow and activity in the brain. SPECT allows physicians to look deep inside the brain to observe three things: areas of the brain that work well, areas of the brain that work too hard, and areas of the brain that do not work hard enough. Following the SPECT, it was suggested that Tim would benefit from Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has been proven to reduce cerebral edema, reduce neuro-inflammation, increases oxygen saturation to the brain, promote new blood vessel growth, reactivate idling neurons and can create an 8-fold increase in your own stem cell production. In a hyperbaric chamber, the influx of oxygen helps increase blood flow and expedites cellular repair naturally. SPECT scans show that people who have had HBOT have marked improvement in blood flow to the brain.
By giving the body what it needs to thrive – and taking away other natural pollutants for the short time – the brain experiences reduced irritability, impulsivity, and mood swings while many patients notice an increase in uplifting emotions, motor function, and IQ. In other words, HBOT addresses the root cause of anxiety and depression.
Midway through his initial round of HBOT treatments, Tim and his family began seeing benefits. He began talking more clearly and his motivation and interest in activities began to increase. He started participating in physical activity again, walking 2-3 miles with him mom every day. Since completing treatments, Tim has been able to return to the work he loved as an iron worker. Tim has been able to reduce his medications and replace them with more natural vitamin options that don’t leave him feeling so disconnected. He is so thankful to oxygen treatments at Sara’s Garden for helping aid him in his recovery.
No matter what you’ve been told, there is hope… for this and many other conditions. HBOT is treatment without drugs… without surgery… without pain.