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What is post-stroke depression?

Depression is common in stroke patients: Of the approximately 600,000 people who suffer from stroke or recurrent stroke every year in the U.S., 10% to 27% experience concurrent major depression (for an average duration of just under a year) and an additional 15% to 40% experience depressive symptoms.

As a leading cause of disability in older people, stroke may cause a person to experience loss of control and independence, feelings known to contribute to depressive disorders. The negative effects of stroke are compounded in people who experience concurrent depression because these individuals may be less motivated to follow a rehabilitation program.

Certain factors affecting the likelihood and severity of depression in stroke patients include:

  • location of the brain lesion
  • family history of depression
  • prior depressive episodes
  • prestroke social functioning

Although often co-occurring with stroke, clinical depression is not an expected result of stroke. When present, clinical depression should always be treated.

Depression is considered to be a major hindrance to a successful recovery for stroke victims. An estimated 35 percent stroke victims who are age 65 or older experience depression, which may have been triggered by the stroke, or may be an emotional response to the effects of the stroke. Depression can stall recovery because patients sometimes feel hopeless and stop trying. Because of this, anti-depressants and therapy may be other components of the patient's stroke recovery process.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.