Acquired Head Injuries and Personality Changes
In many cases, the sufferer is having difficulty moving and speaking and will have lost their independence as a result of their stroke. Those who had pre-stroke tendencies towards handling stress well, coping with adversity and were optimistic by nature, are more likely to react better following a stroke. Those whose pre-stroke personalities made them prone to anger, anxiety or depression will find stroke rehabilitation discouraging. Lack of motivation is a common reaction with the latter group when recovery is slow and especially if there are many setbacks. And depression and apathy can follow quickly thereafter.
Personality changes are differences in behavior, thinking and interactions of someone from what their normal character has previously been. Personalities are vulnerable to changes following a stroke but these changes may not always be permanent. Once there is an improvement in their abilities, their personality may return to their pre-stroke behavior and way of looking at things.
Some stroke sufferers may have uncontrolled bouts of crying or laughing. Some may have reduced patience and increased frustration levels, be more impulsive, lack self-confidence, be self-centered, more emotional or behave inappropriately. Others may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder which is a fear of helplessness. Some have difficulty functioning socially and many have symptoms of identity loss which can lead to changes in their personalities. Identity loss is the feeling that many stroke sufferers have because of how they see themselves following a stroke. Their lives have been altered, especially if there have been major changes in their functioning abilities.
The following are some of the ways to help a stroke victim:
– treat them with respect and listen to what is bothering them;
– offer praise when they make an effort to work towards recovery;
– allow them to make choices. It is often necessary, however, to ensure that their choices are not ones that will place them at risk;
– discuss their personality changes with them and determine if they can identify and understand the changes in themselves;
– if they have an awareness, help them towards developing compensatory strategies;
– express your feelings about the changes and encourage them to discuss how they feel about the changes;
– discuss with them how personality changes have impacted their relationships.
If they are uncomfortable discussing their personality changes with someone close to them, perhaps it would be easier for them to do it with a third party, unbiased person who is not closely involved with them. Being aware of their personality changes can help considerably towards being able to work on them.