The Personality Shift: How TBIs Can Dramatically Alter a Person’s Character and Relationships in South Carolina

A hit to the head that impacts the brain, even mildly, can significantly alter someone’s personality and their relationships with others. This type of injury, known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), occurs when the head receives a bump, blow, jolt, or penetrating trauma that disrupts normal brain functioning. Even though they are categorized as “mild,” these TBIs can still have serious consequences.

Common Changes After a TBI

After a TBI, survivors often experience changes in their personality. Family members who know the person best usually notice these differences. Some common changes include:

Increased Irritability

Losing patience and getting annoyed easily are common after a TBI. Survivors may be more reactive and have frequent emotional outbursts. This can put a strain on relationships.


Impulse control involves putting the brakes on behavior. With impulsivity, people act without first considering potential consequences. Impulsiveness after a TBI can lead to poor decision making.


Some survivors become more aggressive and even violent after a TBI. Aggression can show up as yelling, throwing things, hitting, or other acts.


Regressing to more childlike behaviors is a symptom some people exhibit following a traumatic brain injury. Tantrums, silly behavior, and inappropriate humor can result.

Apathy and Lack of Initiation

Apathy refers to a lack of interest, enthusiasm, and motivation. Survivors may need to be pushed or prodded to participate in activities.


Feelings of sadness and despair are common with TBIs. Loss of interest in normal activities is a sign of depression.


After a TBI, some survivors become more focused on themselves and less tuned into the needs of others. This egocentrism often strains relationships.

Lack of Self-Awareness

Sometimes TBI survivors do not realize they act differently than before the injury. They are unable to see their own personality changes.

Mood Swings

Rapid shifts in mood from happy to sad to angry are another common occurrence after TBI. Mood instability puts stress on relationships.


Some survivors develop obsessive thinking patterns about certain topics. They may frequently repeat stories or obsess over details.


Suspiciousness and mistrust can become heightened after a head injury. Paranoia strains relationships when directed at loved ones.

Social Inappropriateness

Survivors sometimes lose their social filter and make impolite, embarrassing, or insensitive remarks, which can lead to awkward social interactions.

Why TBI Causes Personality Changes

There are a few explanations for why TBIs spark personality shifts:

Frontal Lobe Damage

The frontal lobes control personality, behavior, emotions, judgment, and impulse control. When frontal areas are damaged in a TBI, the survivor’s personality often changes.

Brain Network Disruptions

A TBI disrupts the brain’s networks. Even distant brain regions not directly injured can suffer connectivity issues. This alters the intricate neurocircuitry that shapes personality.

Reaction to Trauma

Experiencing a devastating injury leads to major life changes. Depression, anxiety, and anger often arise as someone copes with these difficulties.

Physical Effects of Brain Injury

TBIs cause lack of sleep, chronic pain, fatigue, and seizures. These physical effects negatively impact emotions and behavior.

Medication Side Effects

Prescription drugs used to treat TBIs sometimes cause negative personality changes like apathy, depression, or anger issues.

Identity Crisis

Survivors often struggle with the loss of their pre-injury identity. No longer being the same person can spur personality changes.

Grief and Loss

Grieving the loss of their old lives and abilities often leads survivors down a rollercoaster of emotion. Mood instability results.

Reduced Coping Skills

With damaged executive function after TBI, survivors lose flexibility in thinking and adapting. This impedes emotional regulation abilities.

Coping with Personality Changes After TBI

Here are some tips for managing the personality shift following traumatic brain injury:


Learning about personality changes helps survivors and loved ones know what to expect. Understanding why the changes occur allows adaptation.

Neuropsychological Testing

Assessments can pinpoint challenges the survivor faces. This enables targeting treatment to specific problem areas.


Counseling provides strategies to handle emotional difficulties and relationship troubles. Cognitive-behavioral approaches teach thought management skills.

Medication Adjustments

Doctors can tweak medications if side effects exacerbate personality problems. Sometimes, different drugs help even out emotions.

Communication Training

Speech therapy, role-playing, and writing practice help improve social skills and communication abilities. This can help to alleviate relationship friction.

Cognitive Rehabilitation

Rehab focuses on improving memory, attention, planning and judgment. Sharpening mental skills leads to better impulse control and decision-making.

Support Groups

Connecting with others facing similar challenges provides validation. Support groups for both survivors and caregivers exist.

Maintaining Realistic Expectations

Personality changes can last a long time after a TBI. Keeping expectations realistic prevents unnecessary frustration. Celebrate every small step forward.

Mindfulness Practices

Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and gratitude journaling can reduce mood instability and irritability. Mindfulness boosts coping.

Avoiding Triggers

Pinpointing situations that spark personality problems allows avoidance or management of triggers. This reduces outbursts.

Breaks and Time Outs

Taking regular breaks prevents overload that exacerbates issues. Time outs let tensions settle before interaction resumes.

Consistent Routines

Sticking to routines provides structure while allowing the survivor to anticipate and prepare for daily activities.

TBI Personality Changes Can Impact Relationships

Changed personalities frequently strain relationships with spouses, family members, and friends. Common issues include:

  • Hurt feelings from insensitive comments
  • Embarrassment over childish behaviors
  • Frustration with lack of motivation
  • Disconnection due to depression
  • Exhaustion from constant caregiving
  • Anger about aggressive outbursts
  • Confusion over inappropriate social skills
  • Loneliness because of social withdrawal

Open communication, education, counseling, respite care, and support groups often help navigate relationship trouble. Some bonds last while others unravel. Each situation is unique, but the path forward often centers on compassion and coping strategies.

If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury due to the negligent or reckless actions of a third party in South Carolina, you may have legal options. TBI personality changes often stem from preventable accidents. Seeking compensation can aid recovery and provide for needed care.

To explore your legal rights after a TBI accident, call now for a free consultation at (888) 477-0597. We have offices in 32 locations across 19 states, including South Carolina, Nebraska, and Iowa. One of our personal injury attorneys can review the details of your case and advise on the best steps to take. You don’t have to manage TBI personality changes alone. Get the help you deserve.