A brain aneurysm itself, the diagnosis and treatment process, and the knowledge of having an unruptured brain aneurysm may all affect a person’s mood and behavior.

An unruptured brain aneurysm is a weak spot in a brain artery that fills with blood and bulges outward.

It may not cause any symptoms. However, if it becomes larger, it can press on surrounding nerves and tissues and cause symptoms. Living with an unruptured brain aneurysm may also affect how a person feels and behaves.

This article explains how an unruptured brain aneurysm may affect behavior, possible symptoms, diagnosis, and when to contact a doctor.

An MRI of a brain with an unruptured aneurysm that can affect a person's behavior -1.Share on Pinterest
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An unruptured brain aneurysm may not cause any symptoms. However, larger aneurysms may cause physical symptoms.

Effect of the unruptured brain aneurysm on behavior

According to a 2021 case report, an unruptured brain aneurysm may cause psychological changes similar to schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The researchers note that mental conditions are common with unruptured brain aneurysms. A person may experience changes in their personality, their ability to learn and concentrate, and reduced memory and mental skills.

In the case report, the person with an unruptured brain aneurysm experienced paranoia, fear, and behavioral changes at school and home.

Symptoms also included a reduced ability to think, mood swings, and issues with emotional stability. This led to difficulties completing tasks and maintaining positive relationships with others.

Researchers do not know why the brain aneurysm caused the psychiatric symptoms. They suggest it may be due to reduced blood flow causing changes in the brain or an inflammatory response to the aneurysm.

Surgery to treat the unruptured aneurysm resolved the psychological and behavioral symptoms.

Effect of diagnosis and treatment on behavior

In some cases, the diagnosis process and knowledge of having an unruptured brain aneurysm may alter how people feel and behave.

According to a 2022 study, an unruptured brain aneurysm may lead to psychological and behavioral changes. The study examined the effects of a small unruptured intracranial aneurysm (sUIA) on a person’s mental well-being and daily activities.

Researchers found that the diagnosis affected both lifestyle and activities, including:

  • avoiding intensive or straining exercise
  • changes in patterns of substance use
  • changes in work-related performance

Some people made positive lifestyle changes after a diagnosis, such as taking steps to reduce stress and increasing physical activity. Others limited certain types of exercise.

Out of 105 people with a recent diagnosis of an sUIA, over half experienced depression and anxiety. Knowledge of having a UIA may link to a reduced quality of life. This may improve following surgery.

Making treatment decisions, waiting times, and quality of communication at diagnosis are all factors that may affect people psychologically. This can then affect their behavior, daily activities, and coping mechanisms.

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, people may experience social and emotional changes with brain aneurysm diagnosis and treatment, such as:

  • difficulty managing emotions, such as anger, frustration, or tearfulness
  • changes in self-esteem and confidence, which may occur due to new physical or mental limitations
  • changes in relationships
  • feeling alone or isolated
  • depression and anxiety due to the aneurysm itself or from related life changes, which may affect:

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, most unruptured brain aneurysms do not cause symptoms unless they become very large or they rupture.

If a brain aneurysm is small and unchanging, it will not typically cause any symptoms.

If an aneurysm is larger or growing steadily, it may press on nearby nerves and tissues and cause the following symptoms:

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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If a person has any symptoms of an unruptured brain aneurysm, they should contact a doctor. If a person experiences difficulties with their mental health or everyday activities, they may wish to contact a doctor, psychologist, or therapist.

A person needs immediate medical attention if they experience any of the following:

These can be signs that an aneurysm has ruptured.

Learn about what can cause a brain aneurysm to rupture.

To diagnose an unruptured brain aneurysm, a doctor will take a full medical history and assess any symptoms. They may then carry out the following tests:

  • a CT or MRI scan to create an image of the brain and skull
  • CT angiography, which uses dye to produce an image of blood vessels in the brain
  • MRI angiography to create images of blood vessels and identify the location, size, and shape of an unruptured aneurysm
  • cerebral angiography, which identifies any blockages or weak spots in the arteries of the brain or neck
  • cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis, which examines CSF to check for any bleeding around the brain

Here are some frequently asked questions about unruptured brain aneurysms.

Can a person live a typical life with an unruptured brain aneurysm?

Many unruptured aneurysms will not cause symptoms. Whether people receive treatment for an unruptured aneurysm may depend on the location, size, and shape of the aneurysm, as well as any symptoms it causes.

People with an unruptured brain aneurysm can live a typical life. However, they may need to go through a period of adjusting to their diagnosis as well as time to heal from any treatments they receive.

A doctor will likely want to monitor small aneurysms, as well as regularly checking blood pressure, cholesterol, and any other medical conditions.

What should a person avoid doing if they have an unruptured brain aneurysm?

If people have an unruptured brain aneurysm, the following actions may help to reduce the risk of a brain aneurysm rupturing:

In some cases, an unruptured brain aneurysm may cause psychological and behavioral changes.

Lifestyle changes, diagnosis and treatment, and adjusting to having an unruptured brain aneurysm may also affect how people feel and behave.

People can contact a healthcare professional if an unruptured brain aneurysm affects their behavior or mental health.