Some crash victims suffer traumatic brain injury that impacts the frontal lobe of the brain. One of the symptoms of a frontal lobe injury may be an altered “affect,” which makes the person who was injured– maybe a family member or friend of yours– seem less emotional or “flatter.” A flat affect can be a sign that the crash caused a traumatic brain injury and treatment is necessary.
What is a flat affect?
A flat affect is a problem in the brain’s frontal lobe that interferes with a person’s ability to sense and express emotions. For example, a person with a flat affect may not show what we would expect in emotional reactions, either verbally or physically.
What are the signs of a flat affect?
People with a flat affect have trouble showing normal emotions and responding appropriately to the feelings of others. They can seem apathetic and like they do not care. This occurs because their brain does not register the emotion the way a normal brain would. The person can also seem severely depressed.
Is a flat affect the same as depression?
A Flat affect can be a symptom of depression caused by a TBI or a direct injury caused by the accident (independent of depression.) However, not everyone with a flat affect is, or should be, diagnosed with depression.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are among the most severe injuries caused by car crashes. Diagnosing a TBI early is important and noticing a flat affect can help with that diagnosis. Once diagnosed, a traumatic brain injury can be addressed, especially if mild and diagnosed early, through cognitive retraining and emotional support therapy, among other treatment methods.