Anxiousness & Anxiety

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, fear, and physical changes like increased heart rate, blood pressure, etc. In a pure sense, anxiety has helped humans be ready to face sudden events, danger, and situations that require quick reaction. Also, we all have different levels of anxiety, with two thirds of the population are within the healthy range, and one third who need psychotherapy and/or medication. However, in the case of brain injury survivors, anxiety and anxious feelings are common symptoms and researchers are trying to find the cause. But there are some suggestions that attribute those symptoms and others to the chemical, biological, and hormonal changes in the brain after a brain injury.

For brain injury survivors, anxiety can be serious and evil, for it consumes daily energy and distorts precious thoughts. While controlling anxiety can be difficult, both brain injury patients and their caregivers must try. Watch the movie Limitless, and consider how Bradley used a synthetic street drug to peel away his layers of negative emotions and behavior, replacing them with a focused and efficient self. This movie was not about anxiety, but the idea of peeling away some layers of anxious feelings, and noisy emotions, sounds attractive. That is to say, look at your current life, find what creates additional anxiety, and mitigate. Doing so will help reveal your brain injury reality, meaning the symptoms that you have, and not the ones you have added. Also, try to simplify your life, and keep it manageable, as that will prevent additional anxiety. Do keep in mind, though, while too much anxiety is debilitating, a little anxiety will help get you off that couch.

Anxious vs Anxiety

Anxiousness and anxiety are often used interchangeably, but not for brain injury. Sarah had suffered from anxiety since the start of her brain injury, and still does, but she now manages it better. I, on the other hand, get those sudden anxious feelings that randomly come and go, lasting hours or days, and I have learned to power through and live with it.


Here are things that we have tried, and other general recommendations:

Keep it “Dumb Simple” –

I find that I spend much time thinking of how to reduce my complicated life and thoughts into simple ideas. Simple ideas require much less thinking and energy to comprehend, convey, and execute. In recent years, this revelation has been very helpful. I like to thank my good friend who always said, ”I like to keep everything dumb simple”.

Past Guilt & Future Worries –

My wife and I split the two, I am usually hanging onto past guilt, and she is usually worried about future mishaps. But let me tell you, both are difficult traits, and we have been helping each other to keep them under control. After all, reducing the drag of past guilt and reducing the worries of future mishap, reduces today’s anxiety and gives us a better chance to enjoy our life experience today.

Exercise –

Cardio-style exercise, with repetitive motion, can be beneficial. Repetitive motion in particular is very helpful to those with brain injury. While anxiety might discourage exercise, it comes in many forms, within your reach, and will help with both situational and long term episodes.

Meditation –

Mindfulness meditation is a technique that can relax the mind and body, and uses deep breathing techniques to help manage stress and anxiety. Mindfulness meditation strives to focus the mind on the present moment, allowing it to notice sensations and feelings without evaluating them.

Music –

When it comes to music, our family is all in. With almost every genre and across multiple cultures, we all enjoy many different types of music, depending on the mood and the occasion. After 50+ years of listening to music, I consider it a valuable friend, uplifting me when I am feeling blue, and helping me celebrate good times as well. My daughter Sarah, on the other hand, has a version 2.0 love and appreciation for music, and uses music and meditation for personal therapy.

Cannabis & CBD –

Unless you are living in a bubble, I am sure you are aware of the benefits of cannabis for medicinal use. With some states having already legalized it for medical use, and others about to do so, there is something here to consider. On this subject, I invite you to watch a four part series by CNN called Weed, then decide. A point to make before moving on, is the value of medical cannabis for anxiety and as a neuroprotector. In fact, sleep and cannabis are the only known neuroprotectors.

Medicine –

Throw a pill down your throat and hope it helps. I am not a doctor, and can not give anyone a medical advice, but here is our experience. I found that beta-blockers like Inderal or similar help to control those anxious feelings for a few hours, but a higher dose can make me tired after it wears off. This medicine is relatively safe and most people use it as a performance drug for public speech, performance, etc. Then there is the daily selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Celexa, which provides long term help. It is relatively effective and has minimal side effects. Finally, for drastic measures, my daughter Sarah was prescribed this monstrous but effective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor Effexor. Effexor has helped Sarah during tough times with her strong anxiety and migraines, but it can be addictive. There are many more options, like Xanax and others, so talk with your doctor and psychiatrist on what works best for you.

“please click here for an interesting read about Ways to reset your nervous system”

So, anxious feelings and anxiety will likely be present for most brain injury survivors, and sometimes their caregivers as well. Keep an eye on your anxiety level. Perhaps use a 1-5 system, and communicate it to those close to you. When your anxiety runs high or is ramped up, don’t wait, work with your doctor and psychologist to find the best way to keep it at a manageable level.