Meningitis Now
4,188 members1,394 posts

emotional impact of meningitis

this is my first post as a worried mum- My son nearly lost his life last year aged 18. Physically he has recovered amazingly and has been left only with minor scarring. Emotionally though he is not great , depression and anxiety panic attacks. Advice help support would be appreciated .He is taking anti depressants but ht is being treated as a separate issue from the meningitis and I think its all part of it !

4 Replies

So sorry to hear your son had meningitis last year,but glad you have found this forum for support. Meningitis is like a brain injury and unfortunately depression,anxiety,panic attacks and general emotional liability are very common after such a severe illness.

Meningitis now produce very useful factsheets available on their website or to order.Have you called the Helpline -it is run by nurses and is a great source of information and support.They can refer you to eg counselling or put your son or yourself in touch with a 1-2-1 contact who has been through a similar experience.

I had Meningitis and Septicaemia in 2008 and like your son,it was very nearly fatal.I have been left disabled,with physical problems but my worst struggle was with post traumatic stress and depression.I am a Christian and believe that God allowed me to come back from death)had an out of body experience) for a reason,yet although I knew I was so blessed to have survived I had times when I wished I had slept away as living like this is still very hard.It was compounded with lack of support from family and breakdown of my marriage, so I was desperate to talk to someone who would understand. My Gp was very good and treated me for PTS -I was unable to close my eyes without experiencing the trauma /scenes of my misdiagnosis,or if I did I would awaken feeling like I couldn't breath.

Once I felt a bit better sleep wise,I called MeningitisTrust helpline and they referred me fro free telephone counselling.I can honestly say that only my faith and the counselling sessions kept me going through these dark days.I was able to speak honestly( and over and over again!) about my experiences and feelings and was not judged.I even got down because I survived and others didn't.I was told I had PTSD and emotional liability and found it took 2 years before my emotions felt more level.My emotions would change over minutes and I seemed to have no control.I would be howling at something on the news,then laughing the next minute.This was very uncharacteristic as I am generally a fairly stable character.Itcan also be an effect of frontal lobe damage.

Unless your son suffered these things prior to Meningitis it is likely that your instincts are spot on.The thing is that he will be treated the same whether the depression etc is due to meningitis or any other situation. Howvever rather than just having antidepressants, perhaps he can push for referalf or counselling on NHS?This can take more than a year .Do encourage him to take the medication as both medication and counselling are generally needed.

Maybe he would benefit from a 1-2-1 contact - he could choose how to contact eg phone,email txt ,letter- who would be someone who is of roughly same age and experience of Meningitis.Could Meningitis Now help in meantime with counselling -he may be able to have face to face counselling ,depending on your area.

Would your son come on this forum?It is a great source of support for all of us on here and we are all at different stages,so the more experienced of us can hopefully offer some emapathy and tips to help those at the start on Meningitis journey -for if you read even a few of the posts,Menigitis after effects can last a life time.

I do hope that your son will be one of the ones who make a good physical and also emotional recovery( with the right support).

Do keep me posted .Im also sur et hat you will get lots of replies-takes a few days unless forum members online.Warm wishes to you both.


Hi Firankine, I'm much older than your son. I'm 77 this year and got bacterial meningitis last year about this time. I think because of my age the the illness had a greater impact. I was in a coma for about a week and got to the hospital within 12 hours of the onset. I think you're right about the full impact of the meningitis. I have days of extreme emotional moods. My balance and coordination are off some days and fine others. Hopefully, over time those after affects will diminish if not disappear all together.


this is my chief complaint now. I had viral meningitis in august 2013 and had after effects of poor balance, headaches (what the neuros call "shooters" -- sharp stabbing pains, mostly over my left eye or left temple-- being emotional and having panic attacks. now I am very much improved except for being overly emotional and having nightmares. I get very emotional over some movies that I used to not be bothered at all with. War and violence are especially troublesome. I am controlling the nightmares with 1 mg. Ativan before bedtime. if I miss one I will awaken from a heart pounding, teeth chattering nightmare and often remain in a awakened panic attack for an hour or so. taking the Ativan before bedtime suppresses the nightmares. it was so bad that I developed an aversion to going to bed each night. I'm told it may take up to two years for full recovery and I have been blessed to recover so much so quickly. I see a new neurologist next month, but I am not confident I'll learn or find any more relief than I already have. I am taking high doses of omega 3 fatty acids in hope of hastening recovery. all the best.


Hi, I had bacterial meningitis at age 33 and almost died. I suffered from bipolar illness and borderline personality disorder before getting sick, but the meningitis made it so much worse. Feelings of guilt, why did I survive when so many other people with children die, I was really traumatized by the terrible things I saw in my coma. I couldn't deal with it at all and went right back to abusing drugs and alcohol, lost everything I had. Maybe your son experienced something in his coma that bothers him or maybe he had guilty feelings too like I did. If I think about it now it bothers me so I try not to. But I am sober now and that helps a lot. Was he prone to depression before? That makes it a lot harder. Just let him know he is definately not alone. And seeing a therapist helps too.


You may also like...