Dementia in Head Injury
Symptoms of Dementia in Head Injury continued...
Major mental disorders may develop after head injury. Two or more of these may appear together in the same person:
- Depression -- Sadness, tearfulness, lethargy, withdrawal, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, insomnia or sleeping too much, weight gain or loss
- Anxiety -- Excessive worry or fear that disrupts everyday activities or relationships; physical signs such as restlessness or extreme fatigue, muscle tension, sleeping problems
- Mania -- State of extreme excitement, restlessness, hyperactivity, insomnia, rapid speech, impulsiveness, poor judgment
- Psychosis -- Inability to think realistically; symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions (false beliefs not shared by others), paranoia (suspicious and feeling of being under outside control), and problems thinking clearly; if severe, behavior seriously disrupted; if milder, behavior bizarre, strange, or suspicious
- Obsessive-compulsive symptoms -- Development of obsessions (uncontrolled, irrational thoughts and beliefs) and compulsions (odd behaviors that must be carried out to control the thoughts and beliefs); preoccupation with details, rules, or orderliness to such a degree that the larger goal is lost; lack of flexibility or ability to change
- Suicide risk -- Feelings of worthlessness or that life is not worth living or that world would be better off without him or her, talks about suicide, states intention to commit suicide, develops plan to commit suicide
When to Seek Medical Care for Dementia
Any of the symptoms and signs described in the symptoms section warrants a visit to the person’s health care provider. This is true regardless of whether the person has a known head injury. Be sure the health care provider knows about any falls or accidents that could have involved even a mild head injury.
Exams and Tests for Dementia After a Head Injury
- In most cases, the appearance of dementia symptoms is clearly linked to a known head injury. The health care provider will ask for a detailed account of the onset of symptoms. This account should include the following:
- The exact nature of any injury and how it happened, if known
- Medical attention received in the period immediately after the injury (such as a visit to the emergency room; medical records should be available.)
- The person’s state since the injury
- Any prescription or over-the-counter medications, or illicit drugs, the person may be taking
- A description of all symptoms and their timing and severity
- An account of all treatment undergone since the injury
- Whether any legal action is pending or under consideration
The medical interview will ask for details of all medical problems now and in the past, all medications and other therapies, family medical history, work history, and habits and lifestyle.
In most cases, a parent, spouse, adult child, or other close relative or friend should be available to provide information that the injured person cannot provide.
At any time in this evaluation process, the primary health care provider may refer the injured person to a neurologist (specialist in disorders of the nervous system, including the brain).