Depression and Stroke

Depression is a common experience for stroke survivors. It’s often caused by biochemical changes in the brain. When the brain is injured, you may not be able to feel positive emotions.

Common symptoms of depression may include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex
  • Decreased energy and fatigue, and feeling “slowed down”
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

Be aware when a sense of hopelessness overwhelms you and disrupts your ability to function, as this is called clinical depression. If these feelings persist for longer than two weeks and are accompanied by thoughts, expressions or actions of harm, speak with health care professional immediately.

Depression is often accompanied by anxiety in stroke survivors. Worry and fear may range from uncomfortable to disabling. Generalized anxiety disorder combined with clinical depression can further disrupt recovery. Treatment is important.

Depression may make the rehabilitation process more challenging for survivors to do the hard work required. However, treatments and strategies that can improve these changes are available.

A good psychologist or psychiatrist can help. Treating depression and anxiety not only improves the survivor’s mood, it boosts physical, cognitive and intellectual recovery. Social support is also crucial. Several studies show that depression goes hand in hand with lower levels of support. Look to your family, friends, a stroke support group or a combination of resources for help. Everyone involved in recovery needs to be aware of the survivor’s depression — and ready to respond to it. The right kind of treatment and support can help ease the pain and move the survivor down the road to recovery.

Life After Stroke:
Our path forward

There is life — and hope — after stroke. With time, new routines will become second nature. Rehabilitation can build your strength, capability and confidence. It can help you continue your daily activities despite the effects of your stroke.

Support That Empowers

Recovery becomes so much more manageable when you have the right kind of emotional support. Our online community of patients, survivors and caregivers is here to keep you going no matter the obstacles. We’ve been there, and we won’t let you go it alone.
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