Stroke and Depression: What You Should Know

Depression and stroke

Strokes are caused when your brain loses its blood supply. This often happens because of a blood clot that is blocking the passage of blood through an artery.

People who’ve had a stroke often report feeling symptoms of depression. Post-stroke depression is the most frequent psychiatric complication of stroke. Almost a third of those who’ve had a stroke develop depression. However, most of cases of depression after stroke aren’t diagnosed. Doctors may overlook checking for depression signs. People who have had a stroke can either hide the symptoms or not be aware of them. A caregiver can give great insight and help identify depression early.

Depression can affect a person’s quality of life. It can also make it more difficult to recover from a stroke. Depression can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, which in turn increases the risk of experiencing another stroke. Mortality rates are 10 times higher in people who experience depression after a stroke.

Post-stroke depression can be managed with treatment. Research suggests that mental function is improved in people who are treated for depression.

Risk factors for depression after a stroke

You’re more likely to have depression after a stroke if you:

  • had a previous mental illness
  • are female
  • had a previous condition that affected how you think, such as a traumatic brain injury
  • had previous functional difficulties, such as those that may be caused by Parkinson’s disease or other neuromuscular disorders
  • live alone

Strokes that cause a high degree of physical disability and neurological problems also raise your risk. For example, if you develop aphasia after a stroke, you’re more likely to become depressed. Aphasia reduces your ability to talk and understand words.

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