Could (TBI) Traumatic brain injuries be linked to Post Traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)? I know there is a lot of concern with veterans and PTSD, but I am more interested in all the other situations/civilian cases of PTSD. From what I have read, there are overlapping symptoms between PTSD and TBI? Is it possible for someone to have PTSD from damage to the brain and not from a specific event?


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It is reported that mild traumatic brain injury does not produce Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder however, according to this report in the American Journal of Psychiatry, severe TBI could possibly lead to PTSD in approximately 27% of cases. In this study of 96 patients (77 men and 19 women), after 6 months following hospital discharge for severe traumatic brain injury, 27% of them suffered PTSD. Out of these patients:

  • 19% reported having intrusive memories,
  • 23% reported having nightmares,
  • 31% reported having a sense of reliving the trauma,
  • 65% reported avoidance of thoughts,
  • 65% reported avoidance of places; and
  • 73% had signs of hypervigilance.

However one point of note that the report detailed was that

First, our patients were not selected consecutively, and their responses may not be representative of populations with severe traumatic brain injury. Second, we did not obtain neuropsychological information on each patient.

I must admit that when I was looking at the report, due to the high number reliving the trauma and avoiding certain places, I wondered whether the trauma leading to PTSD was actually the brain injury or if it was the traumatic effect of the event which led to the brain injury.

Another point of note is that it was also reported in a committee hearing in the U. S. House of Representatives, that people with TBI are more likely to develop PTSD than those who have not incurred a brain injury

Personally, from looking at these reports, I think the jury may be still out on this one.

  • $\begingroup$ Based on what I have read online and my own personal experiences; I keep coming across the idea that there might be some pathological occurrence that is directly related to PTSD. From a engineering student and neuroscience hobbyist perspective, it seems possible that emotions from a traumatic event could cause similar circuitry damage that is experienced from a brain injury. I figured I would throw my idea out there and see what people with more experience have to say about it. Thanks again for the info and insight!! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 2:35
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    $\begingroup$ You are asking a different question here which will be of benefit if you post separately. The idea of PTSD causing brain damage is different to the idea of TBI causing PTSD $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ I might have worded my question wrong but I found an article that is along the lines of what I was thinking. neurosciencenews.com/tbi-genetics-brain-damage-6204 $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 6:33

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