Q My wife had a minor stroke six months ago and has experienced some depression since. Is this common? Do you have any recommendations?
DR. SEEMANT CHATURVEDI RESPONDS:
A Depression is quite common after a stroke. It is estimated to occur in 20 to 30 percent of stroke survivors. In some cases, it can be a reaction to new physical deficits or the sudden change in life circumstances brought about by the stroke. In other instances, even with relatively minor physical deficits, depression can occur and may be due to biochemical changes in the brain.
Treatment can be focused on factors such as lifestyle, counseling, or medication. Participation in stroke support groups or a structured exercise program reduces stress and anxiety for some patients. Counseling sessions provide an outlet for expressing fears and frustrations. Finally, some patients improve with the commonly used antidepressants.
In many cases, post-stroke depression resolves within six to 12 months.