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A Link Between PTSD and TBIs

January 27, 2017

Traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder are things we hear about in the news, but they are rarely spoken about together. While they different in terms of how they come about and how they manifest in each individual, there are some similarities and links between them.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a dysfunction to the brain triggered by an outside force, such as a fall, accident, or other type of sudden and forceful blow or jolt to the head, like a concussion, for example. A TBI can occur even when no direct contact is made with the head, such as is the case with whiplash, which can cause significant damage without ever making direct, forceful contact with the head.

Common symptoms of TBI include, but are not limited to:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Problems focusing
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Anger outbursts
  • Anxiety
  • Personality changes

TBIs can be catastrophic and life-altering; however, often victims of TBI are able to continue to live a normal life with no outward physical symptoms of their injury. This is often the case with individuals who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder that affects individuals who witness or experience a traumatic event and is characterized by a state of persistent mental and emotional stress that disrupts normal work and home life. Any traumatic event can trigger PTSD.

Some symptoms of PTSD include, but are not limited to:

  • Reliving the event through nightmares, flashbacks, or trigger events caused by something you see, hear, or smell
  • Negative changes in beliefs or feelings
  • Inability to sleep
  • Avoidance of crowds or activities you once enjoyed
  • Trouble focusing
  • Anxiety

Based on the descriptions of both TBI and PTSD, it can seem that one might cause the other or anyone who suffers from a TBI would subsequently suffer from PTSD, but that is not always the case.

Link Between TBI and PTSD

It may seem that TBI and PTSD are one in the same, but they are not: they seem so similar because they both stem from a traumatic event, and the symptoms often overlap. People who experience a TBI can develop PTSD, however. Still, it can be difficult to accurately diagnose through screenings because symptoms manifest differently for everyone.

Diagnosing a TBI and PTSD can be difficult because the symptoms aren’t always physical, and screenings don’t give the whole picture. The best and most accurate diagnosis will come after an interview with a skilled clinician, who can also recommend a treatment plan.

There are so many different ways and scenarios that individuals can get a TBI or develop PTSD that it is impossible to pinpoint who is most likely to suffer from either of these conditions. But there is one group that has an increased risk for having both TBI and PTSD: veterans ― especially those who have served in recent conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq.

TBI, PTSD, and Veterans

The U.S. Department of Defense and the Veteran’s Brain Injury Center estimates that 22% of all combat wounds from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are from brain injuries. By contrast, 12% of combat wounds from the Vietnam conflict were from TBI. The TBIs from veterans in Middle Eastern conflicts mainly come from blasts, motor vehicle accidents, and gunshot wounds.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that veterans suffer from symptoms of TBIs longer than civilians do, usually because they suffer from other medical problems as well, like PTSD, chronic pain, or substance abuse. The good news for veterans (and civilians) is that symptoms of TBI and PTSD can be treated, giving those who live with the injury or disorder the ability to live a more peaceful and productive life.

Contact the Law Offices of William D. Cook Today!

Even though veterans have an increased risk for a traumatic brain injury and PTSD, these conditions can happen to anyone who experiences a head injury. Attorney William D. Cook has spent decades fighting for victims of TBIs to receive the compensation and justice they deserve.

If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI, please contact the Law Office of William D. Cook by calling (800) 757-7757 or by completing the form on this page. We offer free consultations, and our contingent fee structure ensures that you do not pay a dime in fees or expenses unless or until we have achieved optimal recovery on your behalf. 


Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD. (2015 August 13). U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from


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