Bipolar Disorder Can be Caused by Brain Injury
Some of the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are well understood. People expect a brain injury survivor to have physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and maybe confusion. Those who have experienced a traumatic brain injury may also experience problems with mental functioning, including difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and vision and hearing problems. It is also understood that a brain injury can cause problems with sleep and some behavioral issues as well.
But it is not common knowledge that a brain injury can cause a number of psychological or psychiatric disorders as well. This is true for bipolar disorder. It simply is not well understood that a traumatic brain injury can cause bipolar disorder.
Bi-polar disorder is a brain disorder that “causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”[i] There are four types of bipolar disorder, and each type is marked by periods of “extremely ‘up,’ elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, ‘down,’ or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes).”[ii]
Bipolar disorder and other psychiatric disorders are a recognized consequence of brain injuries, including concussions. Patients who suffer TBIs may exhibit a number of common symptoms, including confusion, mental fogginess, fatigue, concentration issues, stress, impulse control issues, anxiety issues, anger and rage issues, mood instability, agitation, and depression.
In addition to these symptoms, a TBI can cause bipolar disorder to develop. This is true according to a number of respected sources, including The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5):
Etiology (i.e., a causal relationship to another medical condition based on best clinical evidence) is the key variable in this etiologically specified form of bipolar disorder. The listing of medical conditions that are said to be able to induce mania is never complete, and the clinician’s best judgment is the essence of this diagnosis. Among the best known of the medical conditions that can cause a bipolar manic or hypomanic condition are Cushing’s disease and multiple sclerosis, as well as stroke and traumatic brain injuries.
According to prevailing knowledge about bipolar disorder, bipolar disorder is considered a permanent chronic illness that may go into remission but is otherwise incurable. That means a patient will need future medical care in the form of medication and/or counseling to address his or her condition and symptoms.
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident, had a brain injury of some sort, and are now experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, you need to speak with an experienced brain injury attorney. There is a possibility that your brain injury caused your bipolar disorder, in which case you may need a lifetime of treatment and counseling to learn how to control your disorder.
For a free consultation in a traumatic brain injury case that involves psychiatric issues, including bipolar disorder, please call Robert E. Byrne, Jr., a Charlottesville brain injury attorney who is experienced in handling these types of brain injury claims.