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Are you having mood swings at work after a traumatic brain injury?

It’s a week after your car crash. You’re still feeling groggy and headachy after hitting your head on the steering wheel, but you decided to go into the office, and you’re sitting at your desk. Then, your boss comes to ask about the report you promised to have done yesterday.

Your reaction is a complete surprise – both to you and your boss. You start crying. You become angry, and throw a picture frame across your desk. Your boss runs away, and the entire office is abuzz. “What’s wrong with Jerry?” everyone is saying. The next day, the HR department gives you a pink slip and the security guard escorts you from the premises.

The truth is, if your doctor had been there to tell your co-workers, there was indeed something wrong with you. You suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in your car crash, and you’re currently suffering from ’emotional lability’ – i.e., intense and uncontrollable mood swings that will likely persist for several months while you recover.

What is emotional lability?

The g-forces involved in a serious accident, in addition to blunt force trauma to the head, can result in the bruising, tearing and bleeding of the brain – it can also lead to the death of brain cells. The consequences are often clear: numbness, loss of motor control, memory and cognitive function difficulty, paralysis, vision problems, tasting and smelling problems and more.

Severe emotional and psychological problems can also result from TBI. However, because of the way these symptoms outwardly affect those around us – like spouses, family members, friends and coworkers – emotional symptoms of TBI can lead to severe social consequences.

TBI mood swings are usually temporary

A TBI victim could become angry, happy, sad, joyous, depressed – or experience another emotion – and then quickly change to another emotional experience. Doctors blame this emotional instability on damage to the part of the brain that regulates and controls emotions. The emotional moments often come in flashes, then quickly subside, but they will leave lasting effects on those around us.

Doctors refer to TBI-caused mood swings as ’emotional lability.’ Fortunately, these symptoms will usually subside quickly – within three months of recovery.

Did you lose your job due to TBI-caused emotional lability?

If a car accident victim — who suffers a traumatic brain injury — loses his or her job because of emotional lability, this can mean severe financial consequences. In some situations, legal measures can be taken to prevent the loss of one’s job due to a TBI-caused outburst. Moreover, the TBI victim may also be able to pursue financial compensation related to lost income in a personal injury claim against the at-fault party in the accident.