Depression after a TBI

Brain Injury Blog 

Depression after a TBI

by  Dr. William Jarvis

It was Norman Vincent Peale who said, “Change your thoughts and you can change your world”. There is a positive thought for every negative thought. It can be true for anyone with a traumatic brain injury. If a person can change his thoughts about his illness and realize that what he thinks is not necessarily an absolute, he will maintain a healthy attitude. This will have a positive effect on possible healing. Also, there is a psychological benefit. If a person can change his thoughts about his injury, a person will change the world he lives in.

There is a Cognitive Therapy theory called: Automatic Thought, Distorted Thought, and Rational Thought. Every person has automatic thoughts when going through a difficult time, thinking about the specifics of the problem and possible consequences (sometimes distorted). For every bad or distorted thought you have, there is a rational thought; that is, a thought that brings focus to a more common sense thinking about the problem.

Depression is very prevalent after a TBI. Here is an example of how changing thinking would work: In a specific circumstance, an automatic thought would be “I can’t walk.” A distorted thought would be “I’ll never walk again.” A rational thought is “With effort and consistency in therapy, I may walk again. I don’t know now for sure.” In Cognitive Therapy this is called a Distortion by trying to predict the future. Changing how a person thinks gives a common sense assessment of the situation and at the same time instills hope for the future.

[1] Norman Vincent Peal (1898-1993), most influential clergymen in the United States during the 20th-century,

[2] Cognitive Distortions include the category of ‘Jumping to Conclusions’ which is an error of logical thinking

April 6, 2012

3 responses to “Depression after a TBI”

  1. Deborah Breda says:

    I was involved in the medical field at major county hospital district and my administrative position as a Director was drastically cut short at thirty-three years of age. Needless to say I constantly go in/out of depression by replaying that story line over and over. I know I need a need a new story line.

    I feel like I can not move past the accident that life me dependent on this wheelchair.

  2. Cali Minich says:

    Your problem(s) don’t seem so great when you help someone less fortunate than you!

  3. Developing a new interest can often boost your spirits up and out of depression! Life can sometimes become dull and routine so finding a new hobby to wake up your mind can lead to a happier spirit. It could be anything from taking up a craft to visiting the sick or elderly so find something new to do with yourself and you just might find a new you!

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