Mood Swings

Mood swings are quite common after TBI and, like other symptoms, can be the direct result of the TBI or a symptom of adjustment to change. It can be frustrating and embarrassing when a person can’t control their emotions. It can make it hard to participate in social situations.

What might you see?

  • Laughing one minute, and feeling sad or crying the next
  • An emotional response that does not "fit" the situation (for example, crying when others are laughing or laughing when receiving news about the death of a loved one)
  • Frequent, unexpected shows of emotion

How can you help?

  • Reassure the service member or veteran that you understand that their display of emotion may not match the situation. Be nonjudgmental.
  • When appropriate, help family and friends understand sudden shifts in the service member or veteran’s mood.
  • Distract the service member or veteran by changing the topic of conversation or changing their environment by taking a walk. Use redirection (in other words, try to change the topic or focus of interest to something else).
  • If the mood swings are interfering with the service member or veteran’s everyday life, ask them to talk with a provider. Medications and behavioral counseling may be helpful in managing mood swings.