Brain injuries can have a significant impact on patients’ relationships, and both patients and family members may find themselves feeling estranged from friends, coworkers and extended family.
Common thoughts and feelings
Patients may have trouble relating to other people and may feel like they would rather be left alone. At the same time, deficits resulting from the aneurysm – which may not be obvious at first – may grow more apparent over time, impacting patients’ functioning and abilities to interact with other people.
One exercise that can help patients and families to cope is to think of their aneurysm like a hurricane – a storm that has hit everyone in its path. Just as victims of a hurricane must gradually take steps to rebuild their homes and communities, patients who have suffered a ruptured aneurysm must take gradual steps to rebuild their relationships. While progress may initially seem slow, every step will help make a difference.
Spouses and significant others
A brain aneurysm can also mean changes in family dynamics and in couples’ relationships. As a result, both the individuals who experienced the injuries and their partners are often forced to alter their lives. There may be changes in responsibilities and longtime roles within the relationship. For example, the couple’s primary earner may now be unemployed and recovering or the primary caregiver and homemaker may no longer be able to care for the home and family. These shifts in roles may also impact couples’ intimacy.
In addition to changes in partners’ roles within the relationship, a number of physical and emotional changes following a brain aneurysm can impact couples’ sexual relations. These include changes in hormone levels resulting from the brain injury; changes in appearance and self-confidence; and areas of sexual interest. Because studies have indicated that problems can develop at any time following a brain injury, it is important for couples to seek advice from a medical provider if they encounter any of these issues.