anxiety, anxiety attack, tbi,

Brain Injury and Anxiety

Anxiety is an excessive and persistent feeling of worry and fear about everyday situations. There are five major types of anxiety disorders: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder.  

Types of Anxiety Disorders  Description  Symptoms 
Generalized Anxiety Disorder  Individuals with GAD usually have excessive worry and fear for at least 6 months. They may be anxious about a variety of things, such as work, relationships, and personal health. This can have a big negative impact on their life. 
  • Restlessness 
  • Feeling easily fatigued 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Irritability 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Difficulty controlling worriness  
  • Sleep problems (i.e., difficulty falling asleep or having good quality sleep) 
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder  Individuals with OCD have uncontrollable recurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors that they feel have to repeat consistently (compulsions).  Common Obsession Symptoms 

  • Fear of dirt or being contaminated  
  • Needing things to be orderly, organized, or symmetrical  
  • Difficulty tolerating uncertainty  
  • Unwanted thoughts of aggression or sexual or religious subjects 


Common Compulsion Symptoms 

  • Excessive hand washing 
  • Repeatedly checking doors to make sure they are locked 
  • Following a strict routine 
  • Arranging things to look a particular way 
  • Silently repeating a word, phrase, or prayer 


Panic Disorder  Individuals with a panic disorder usually have recurrent panic attacks that would occur unexpectedly. A panic attack is a sudden intense wave of fear that occurs abruptly or can be triggered by something else, such as an object or situation that you fear. 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Sweating 
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Feelings of being out of control  
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder   PTSD usually develops after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, such as war, sexual violence, natural disasters, or a serious accident or injury.  
  • Intrusive memories (i.e., recurrent flashbacks to the traumatic event, upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event) 
  • Avoid thinking, talking, going to places, or doing activities that remind you of the traumatic event 
  • Having negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world 
  • Being easily scared or startled 
  • Irritability or aggression 
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating 
Social Anxiety Disorder  Individuals with social anxiety disorder usually feel anxiety or fear in social situations, such as meeting new people, being in a job interview, or dating. 
  • Blushing, sweating or trembling 
  • Feeling a rapid heart rate 
  • Rigid body posture 
  • Making little eye contact with others 
  • Speaking with a really soft voice 
  • Difficulty being around others or talking to others 
  • Feeling self-conscious in front of others 
  • Fear of being judged by others 
  • Avoiding places with people 


It is common for individuals to have anxiety after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A person with TBI may have difficulty concentrating and solving problems, which may cause him or her to feel overwhelmed and anxious. A person with TBI may also have too many demands, such as returning to work, that may put too much pressure or stress on him or her. In addition, situations that require a lot of attention and information processing, such as crowded and noisy environments, can make a person with TBI anxious.   

However, there are general strategies that individuals with TBI can use to cope with anxiety. These are:  

  • Yoga or meditation 
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Practice deep breathing exercises  
  • Eat well-balanced meals 
  • Get good sleep, i.e., sleep at least 8 hours a day  
  • Limit alcohol or caffeine intake  
  • Recognize what triggers your anxiety 
  • Share your fears or worries with people who you are comfortable with  
  • Journaling 


For more TBI Glossary Terms, click here.

Spread the love

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *