Neuropsychiatric disturbances associated with traumatic brain injury: A practical approach to evaluation and management

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes a wide variety of neuropsychiatric disturbances associated with great functional impairments and low quality of life. These disturbances include disorders of mood, behavior, and cognition, and changes in personality. The diagnosis of specific neuropsychiatric disturbances can be difficult because there is significant symptom overlap. Systematic clinical evaluations are necessary to make the diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan that often requires a multipronged approach. Management of TBI-associated neuropsychiatric disorders should always include nonpharmacological interventions, including education, family involvement, supportive and behavioral psychotherapies, and cognitive rehabilitation. Pharmacological treatments include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, dopaminergic agents, and cholinesterase inhibitors. However, evidence-based treatments are extremely limited, and management relies on clinical empiricism and resemblance of TBI neuropsychiatric symptom profiles with those of idiopathic psychiatric disorders. Although the understanding of TBI-associated neuropsychiatric disorders has improved in the last decade, further research is needed including prospective, longitudinal studies to explore biomarkers that will assist with management and prognosis as well as randomized-controlled studies to validate pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments. The current review summarizes the available literature in support of a structured, systematic evaluation approach and treatment options as well as recommendations for further research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-82
Number of pages19
JournalSeminars in Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2015


  • anxiety
  • apathy
  • behavior
  • chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • depression
  • mania
  • mood
  • neuropsychiatry
  • postconcussion
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • psychosis
  • sleep
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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