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Understanding personality changes after a brain injury

A medical mistake puts your spouse into cardiac arrest. While doctors are able to save him or her, you feel furious that one careless action caused someone you love so much harm. It was almost fatal.

As your spouse recovers, you notice something else: Your spouse's personality has changed. Before, he or she was always calm, laid-back and easy to get along with. You had a low-stress marriage and just loved your time together. Everyone you knew liked your spouse the moment they met.

After the injury, your spouse seems mad and hostile far more often. He or she is quick to get angry and lash out. That calm, easy-going personality is still there sometimes, but moods swings trigger drastic changes, sometimes in just a second or two. Often, you feel like you are living with two different people.

You are not alone

Unfortunately, situations like these are not uncommon. Brain injuries caused by medical mistakes often result in personality changes and emotional mood swings. One woman, an author and registered nurse, characterized her husband's condition as "Jekyll and Hyde syndrome." She felt that her husband took on a new, angry personality that would come to the forefront occasionally, often making her feel as if she had married a stranger.

Why does it happen?

There are many reasons why this happens, but part of it just depends on the section of the brain that suffers the injury. Medical experts note that damage to the temporal lobe, the frontal lobe, the hippocampus or the amygdala can change a person's personality significantly.

That person may become more likely to get agitated about things that would not have mattered before. He or she may have more volatile emotions, leading to mood swings and making others think the person is constantly overreacting. The person may also have less impulse control, and that can lead to physical aggression and verbal attacks.

Dealing with life changes

In addition, remember that your spouse is also dealing with some serious life changes. A brain injury can impair motor skills, it can lead to memory issues and it can have a lasting impact. Brain injuries do not always heal perfectly.

As your spouse tries to adjust, the stress of these changes could also be a source of endless frustration and fatigue. That, in turn, can lead to mood swings, aggression, agitation and whole host of issues.

What rights do you have?

One thing is for certain: Life with your spouse is never going to be the same again. That medical mistake may not have been fatal, but it could still impact you significantly for the rest of your marriage. It could change your life. When irreparable damage is done, make sure you know all of your legal rights.

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Law Offices of Raymond J. Slomski, P.C.

2929 North Central Avenue Suite 700 Phoenix, AZ 85012 Phone: 602-635-7603 Fax: 602-230-8707 Phoenix Law Office Map