General Health

Can you get depressed after a stroke?

Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain decreases. This occurs when a clot blocks the passage of blood through an artery.

People who have had a stroke often experience symptoms of depression. Post-stroke depression is the most common psychiatric complication of stroke. Almost one-third of those who had had a stroke develop depression. However, most cases of depression after stroke are not diagnosed. As a result, doctors may overlook the symptoms of depression.

Depression can affect the quality of life of a person. Also, the risk of cardiovascular diseases increases manifold and the chances of experiencing another stroke increases. The mortality rates are 10 times more in people who experience depression after a stroke.

Post-stroke depression can be managed with treatment.

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Risk factors for depression after a stroke

The possible risk factors for stroke are:-

  • Past history of mental illness
  • Females
  • History of trauma
  • Other conditions like traumatic brain injury
  • Liver diseases

Strokes that cause higher chances of physical disability increase the risk of depression.

Symptoms of post-stroke depression

The symptoms appear between three to six months after the onset of stroke. However, the onset can be as early as a month or as late as years after a stroke. The difference in onset can be attributed to biochemical changes following a stroke and mood and personality changes that occur over time.

Symptoms are:-

  • Continuous feelings of sadness and anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • A feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in focusing and irritability
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Loss of appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts

People who have had a stroke may experience mood changes like

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Apathy
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations

How is post-stroke depression treated?

Treatment for depression is a combination of therapy and medication.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is commonly used to treat depression. Other medicines used to treat depression are:-

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like fluoxetine and paroxetine
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors like duloxetine and venlafaxine
  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine and nortriptyline.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors like tranylcypromine and phenelzine.

Specific lifestyle changes can help in coping with depression:+

  • Attending a support group
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Enhancing social interaction
  • Regular exercise

Conclusion

One of the most challenging things a person with a stroke has to face is being partially or wholly dependent on a caregiver for a while.

Proper monitoring and consulting a doctor at the first signs of depression can help reduce the severity of the condition and changes in post-stroke recovery.

Author

Tuhina Mishra

Dr. Tuhina Mishra completed her MBBS from Grant Government Medical College in the year 2021. She has published several research papers in Indian and international journals. She is a recipient of the ICMR-STS award in the year 2019. She is a staunch believer in making research an integral part of the medical curriculum. She has volunteered in several NGOs, healthcare startups, and awareness programs.

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