APEX Brain Centers

Understanding the Impact of Brain Injuries on Mental Health: Key Insights and Implications

Brain injuries can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. When a person experiences a jolt or impact that causes sudden movement to the brain, it can lead to chemical changes, stretching, and damaging of brain cells [1]. As survival rates have improved for those with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), research has increasingly focused on understanding the complexities of the relationship between TBIs and mental health [2].

At APEX Brain Centers, we recognize the connection between brain injury and mental health disorders. In fact, a population-based study in Denmark analyzed medical and behavioral health registries data for 1.4 million citizens and found that those with a history of TBI were 65% more likely to subsequently be diagnosed with schizophrenia, 59% more likely to be diagnosed with depression, and 28% with bipolar disorder [3]. To effectively address mental health issues after a brain injury, it is crucial to understand the unique needs and challenges each survivor faces.

As we work with individuals who have experienced brain injuries, we prioritize functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and more. By targeting specific brain regions, we aim to help our clients regain control of their mental health and successfully navigate the challenges that may arise from a brain injury.

Brain Injuries and Mental Health: What’s the connection?

Brain injuries can range from mild to severe, and their impact on mental health can vary accordingly. The mental health issues resulting from a brain injury often include cognitive dysfunction, emotional regulation difficulties, mood fluctuations, challenges with attention and impulse control, and the development of co-occurring mental health disorders.

In many cases, the long-term effects of brain injury can create physical and biochemical changes in the brain. These changes may lead to a higher likelihood of developing mental health disorders. Individuals with a history of brain injuries are more likely to experience psychiatric disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Mental health support plays a crucial role in the recovery and ongoing management of these problems. Early intervention and appropriate mental health treatment are critical components for individuals with brain injuries to achieve their maximum potential. However, our experience for the past 2 decades is that mental health services become significantly more impactful when combined with functional neurology assessments and interventions.

One of our primary focuses at APEX Brain Centers is offering targeted functional neurology treatments and evidence-based therapies to address brain injuries and their associated mental health disorders. Our integrative approach combining low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and more helps to improve brain function and mental health outcomes for our clients.

Of course, each individual is unique, and the impact of a brain injury on their mental health will vary. Mild TBIs, such as concussions, may lead to milder mental health disorders like temporary mood fluctuations or anxiety. On the other hand, more severe brain injuries can cause ongoing disabilities or psychiatric disorders, which might impact daily living and necessitate long-term functional neurology and mental health support.

As experts in the field of brain injuries and their impact on mental health, we recognize the importance of addressing both aspects jointly. The appropriate combination of targeted functional neurology treatments alongside mental health support ensures the best possible outcomes for our clients to lead fulfilling, productive lives despite the challenges posed by brain injuries and their mental health consequences.

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Associated Mental Health Disorders

As experts in functional neurology, we have seen that brain injuries can lead to a host of mental health disorders. This section will briefly discuss some of the most common disorders associated with brain injuries.

One of the most common mental health conditions experienced after a brain injury is anxiety. Anxiety disorders can manifest in various ways, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and PTSD. Individuals who suffer from anxiety often experience symptoms such as constant worry, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and physical symptoms such as chest tightness and rapid/shallow breathing.

Depression is another mental health disorder that can develop following a brain injury. Major depressive disorder can cause the individual to feel persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, feelings of worthlessness, and in severe cases, suicidality. To receive a diagnosis of clinical depression, an individual must display at least five persistent symptoms over two weeks.

Brain injuries can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbness, anger, and a constant state of alertness. According to the DSM-5, PTSD is classified under anxiety disorders.

Another possible mental health disorder associated with brain injuries is bipolar disorder. This condition is characterized by extreme mood changes, including episodes of mania and depression. Individuals affected by bipolar disorder may have difficulty maintaining stability in their personal and professional lives.

In some cases, brain injuries may result in psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a complex mental health condition that can cause hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, and cognitive impairments. Although the exact cause of schizophrenia remains unknown, it has been linked to traumatic brain injuries and other neurological factors.

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the complexity and diversity of mental health disorders associated with brain injuries. Our team is dedicated to using evidence-based approaches, such as neurofeedback, balance and vestibular therapies, and metabolic and nutritional therapies, to improve the overall well-being and mental health of individuals who have experienced a brain injury.

Symptoms and Effects of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries can have a variety of symptoms, including cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and physical symptoms. Some of the most common physical symptoms following a brain injury include headache, dizziness, vision/hearing issues, nausea, and pain. These symptoms can be disruptive and distressing for the individual.

Aside from physical symptoms, brain injuries can also impact mood and emotional control. It is not uncommon for individuals to experience mood swings, anger, aggression, and changes in self-esteem as a result of their injury. In some cases, these emotional changes can be long-lasting and can significantly affect an individual’s daily life.

Cognitive deficits are another possible consequence of brain injuries. These include issues with memory, attention, impulse control, and problem-solving abilities. Confusion and difficulties with cognition can make it challenging for individuals to process information, make decisions, and communicate effectively.

A traumatic event, such as an accident or sports-related injury, can lead to damage to the heart and cardiovascular system. This damage can further exacerbate the symptoms and effects of brain injuries, making recovery more challenging.

Our approach at APEX Brain Centers focuses primarily on functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, frequency-based therapies, balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care recommendations to help individuals manage their symptoms and return to a higher quality of life. Through a combination of these treatment methods, we aim to support individuals as they navigate the complex process of recovery from brain injuries.

Management and Treatment

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of proper management and treatment for individuals experiencing the impact of brain injuries on their mental health. Through the recovery process, we focus on providing comprehensive approaches that help our clients manage and cope with the challenges they may face due to brain trauma.

To address potential anxiety disorders, psychiatric disorders, and other mental health concerns related to brain injuries such as concussions, we emphasize the importance of resilience and personalized care. By focusing on functional neurology, our treatment strategies aim to optimize brain function and neuroplasticity, ultimately improving daily function and well-being.

Incorporating various techniques, we provide a combination of treatments that are highly effective in addressing the diverse needs of our clients. Some of these methods include:

  • Low-level laser therapy: This non-invasive treatment uses low-level (cold) laser light to stimulate cellular healing and energy production, and improve overall brain function.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: This therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized vessel to promote healing and reduce inflammation.
  • Neurofeedback: A technique for monitoring and training brainwave activity in real time, which can help individuals regain control over their own brain function.
  • Frequency-based therapies: Treatments such as electrical and vibratory stimulation, light and sound therapies, and more.
  • Balance and vestibular therapies: These therapies help improve issues related to balance, dizziness, and coordination that may result from brain injuries.
  • Eye movement rehabilitation: Targeted exercises and therapies to address vision problems, tracking issues, and other eye movement concerns.
  • Metabolic and nutritional therapies: Personalized dietary and supplementation recommendations to support brain health and overall wellness.
  • Home care recommendations: Attention to activities of daily living such as sleep, dietary needs, exercise, etc. is critical to the success of brain injury recovery programs.

By relying on our expertise and collaborative approach, we at APEX Brain Centers confidently provide our clients with clear, knowledgeable, and empathetic support, empowering them to achieve optimal mental health in the face of brain injuries.

Investigational Studies

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in understanding the impact of brain injuries on mental health. As a result, numerous investigational studies have been conducted to assess the consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI) on various mental health challenges, including anxiety, distress, impulsivity, and psychological symptoms.

One key aspect explored in these studies is the development of anxiety and symptoms of anxiety following a TBI. Research indicates that the relationship between TBI and mental health is quite complex, with mental health outcomes varying across individuals depending on various factors, such as the severity of the injury and the presence of predisposing factors like genetics and environmental influences. In some cases, individuals may experience neurodegeneration, as with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which contributes to long-term morbidity and can exacerbate anxiety or distress.

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry highlighted the importance of early interventions to address anxiety and other psychological symptoms following a TBI. The research found that cognitive and affective sequelae of injuries could be more disabling than the physical effects in the long term.

Sense of purpose has also been identified as a significant factor in mental health outcomes following brain injuries. When individuals maintain a strong sense of purpose and are provided with appropriate resources and support, they are better able to cope with the challenges that come with adjusting to life after a TBI and can experience improved mental health outcomes.

In our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries. Our approach includes an emphasis on functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback. We also utilize balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to support recovery and promote optimum mental health.

These investigational studies continue to expand our understanding of the impact of brain injuries on mental health, helping practitioners like us to develop evidence-based strategies to support affected individuals. As we continue to integrate new knowledge and insights into our practice, we remain committed to providing cutting-edge care to improve the lives of our clients.

Role of Technology in Managing Brain Injuries

At APEX Brain Centers, we have seen first-hand how technology has revolutionized the management of brain injuries. Advanced tools and therapies have improved our ability to treat and support individuals with various brain injuries, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its associated mental health issues, including anxiety, PTSD, stress response, and bipolar disorders.

One of the innovative treatments we utilize is neurofeedback, which involves monitoring a patient’s brain activity in real time. This technique enables us to identify patterns related to their mental health symptoms. By providing feedback on these patterns, patients can learn to self-regulate their brain activity, reducing symptoms and improving their overall mental health.

We also recognize the importance of balance and vestibular therapies for individuals recovering from brain injuries. These therapies, driven by computer based assessments of balance and eye movements, focus on improving coordination, balance, and spatial awareness, which are often compromised following a brain injury. By leveraging technology and innovative exercises, we can help patients regain their sense of purpose and agency.

Incorporating low-level laser and hyperbaric oxygen therapy into our treatment plans allows us to address the physical and metabolic aspects of brain injuries. Low-level laser therapy stimulates cellular healing and energy production in the brain, while hyperbaric oxygen therapy promotes oxygen delivery to injured tissues. Both of these methods have been shown to reduce inflammation and improve brain function, thereby helping to alleviate stresses and support overall mental health.

Lastly, metabolic and nutritional therapies play a crucial role in the management of brain injuries at APEX. By using technology to assess and monitor patients’ nutritional needs through sophisticated laboratory analysis, we can develop personalized plans that optimize their recovery. A well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet can help regulate mood, improve cognitive function, and support brain healing in the aftermath of an injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common mental health symptoms after a brain injury?

After a brain injury, it is common for individuals to experience a range of mental health symptoms. These can include anxiety, depression, irritability, mood swings, attention deficits, and memory problems. Moreover, some people might face difficulties in concentration and decision-making due to the effects of brain injuries on behavioral health.

How can daily life be affected by a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury can have a significant impact on a person’s daily life. This can manifest in various ways, such as cognitive and behavioral changes, difficulty in carrying out daily activities, and decreased ability to maintain social relationships. At APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing the necessary support through various treatments, such as functional neurology and metabolic and nutritional therapies, to help individuals manage these challenges.

What are the long-term side effects of a head injury?

The long-term side effects of a head injury can vary and may include both physical and mental health consequences. Some individuals could face cognitive issues, such as memory and attention problems, while others might experience emotional disturbances, like anxiety and depression. In some cases, brain activity patterns after trauma may predict long-term mental health outcomes.

What changes in thoughts and behaviors can occur due to a brain injury?

Brain injuries can lead to various changes in thoughts and behaviors. Some common changes include difficulties in decision-making, impulsivity, reduced ability to empathize, and social withdrawal. Additionally, individuals may experience memory problems and challenges in processing and understanding information. These alterations in thoughts and behaviors can significantly impact a person’s life, making it essential to seek proper care and treatment.

How do traumatic brain injuries influence emotional well-being?

Traumatic brain injuries can have a profound impact on a person’s emotional well-being. They may cause individuals to experience mood swings, increased irritability, and heightened anxiety or depression. Furthermore, these injuries may impact an individual’s ability to manage stress and adapt to new situations. At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of addressing the emotional well-being of individuals with brain injuries and offer a range of treatments, including neurofeedback and eye movement rehabilitation to help our clients cope.

What mental health issues are associated with traumatic brain injuries?

Traumatic brain injuries are known to result in various mental health issues. These can include, but are not limited to, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and personality changes. In some cases, traumatic brain injuries can also lead to mental health disorders, making appropriate care and treatment essential. At APEX Brain Centers, we provide a comprehensive suite of therapies, such as neurological rehabilitation, balance and vestibular therapies, low-level laser, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, to help our clients navigate and manage these mental health challenges.

Dr. Michael S. Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Neurofeedback Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the practice of advanced functional neurology. He is one of the most highly sought-after brain rehabilitation specialists because of the life-changing outcomes his patients consistently experience. After over a decade in private practice and working alongside other pioneers in the field, Dr. Trayford developed his multimodal intensive brain training and rehabilitation program built around the science of Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and grow dependent upon the stimulation it receives from its environment. He later founded APEX Brain Centers to combine his ground-breaking rehabilitation approach with a unique patient and caretaker-centered care model. Under Dr. Trayford’s leadership, APEX Brain Centers has successfully treated thousands of patients and earned the reputation of a world-renowned brain training and rehabilitation practice. Since its inception, Dr. Trayford has been a leader of the Brain Training revolution treating patients worldwide. In addition, he is a published journal contributor and international lecturer. His experience with various patients of all ages and neurological conditions has given him a unique perspective on brain health and human performance. He is also well-versed in collaborating with other health care professionals, making him an invaluable asset to any care team. Dr. Trayford was awarded the Functional Neurologist of the Year distinction by the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, where he is a proud member and conference lecturer. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Dementia Society of America and the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research. He is also a servant leader who has dedicated his adult life to serving multiple communities through Rotary International and other notable causes. When he’s not treating patients, Dr. Trayford usually reads or researches anything related to the brain, human performance, and leadership. He also loves spending time outdoors with his wife Denise, their two daughters, and dogs in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichaeltrayford/


  1. PATRICIA A NORMAN on March 7, 2024 at 1:48 am


    • DR. MICHAEL S. TRAYFORD on March 8, 2024 at 3:35 pm

      Unfortunately not, although we do have assistance for seniors, those with disabilities, the unemployed, Veterans, etc. Feel free to call us at 828.318.7405 for more information.

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