1 in 3 Stroke Survivors Develop Clinical Depression – Here’s How You Can Help

Screening stroke patients for depression is an easy way to increase a survivors quality of life.

Approximately 800,000 people suffer a stroke each year, making it the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.

While death rates from stroke have been in decline, many stroke survivors face deep depression moving forward.

“Stroke survivors experience feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, fear and hopelessness,” says Dr. Ashish Masih, a neurologist at INTEGRIS. “These emotions are common with post-stroke depression, which affects more than one-third of stroke survivors.”

800,000 people suffer a stroke each year.
800,000 people suffer a stroke each year.

Feelings of sadness, shock, denial, anger, grief and guilt are natural responses after a life-changing stroke, the Stroke Association maintains. Many stroke survivors experience these feelings as they adjust to life with a loss of mobility, a reduced ability to communicate or limited independence.

According to the scientific journal, Stroke, depression can become serious enough that it decreases a patient’s quality of life. Depression can even lengthen the time it takes to recover from a stroke and decrease lifespan.

1 in 3 stroke survivors will develop clinical depression.
1 in 3 stroke survivors will develop clinical depression.

If left untreated, depression can:

  • Increase the disability from stroke
  • Decrease a survivor’s mental abilities
  • Increase the risk of falls
  • Make physical rehabilitation more difficult

It can be a challenge to properly distinguish post-stroke depression from the physical and mental impairments caused by the stroke itself, a study published in the National Library of Medicine reports. Some symptoms, like changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, can be related to both stroke and depression.

Stroke survivors are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide.
Stroke survivors are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide.

According to the National Stroke Association, the signs of post-stroke depression can vary between patients, but commonly include:

  • Feelings of sadness, loss, despair or hopelessness that don’t improve over time
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities that lasts more than two weeks
  • Self-criticism, with feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or feeling like a failure
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Thinking or talking about suicide

According to a study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 1 in 3 stroke survivors will develop clinical depression, and are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide. In contrast, screening stroke patients for depression can increase quality of life and help decrease these tragic numbers.

Screening stroke patients for depression can increase quality of life.
Screening stroke patients for depression can increase quality of life.

By making it hospital policy to screen stroke patients for depression we can help avoid tragedies from repeating. Sign the petition and help ensure a brighter future for stroke survivors and their loved ones!

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