Recognizing and dealing with depression after a stroke

It is common for a person who has had a stroke to feel sad and become depressed about the disabilities caused by the stroke. Sometimes the injury to the brain from the stroke can cause depression. Depression is a serious condition that needs treatment.

People who are depressed may:

  • Feel negative, hopeless, or "down in the dumps."
  • Have a noticeable loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities.

People who are depressed may also:

  • Lose or gain weight.
  • Have decreased or increased appetite.
  • Have difficulty falling asleep or sleep too much. They usually feel tired all the time.
  • Feel worthless or guilty.
  • Be more irritable or angry.
  • Be unable to concentrate, remember, or make decisions as well as they did before the stroke.
  • Have recurring thoughts of death or suicide. If you or your loved one has warning signs of suicide, seek medical help right away.

People with depression may be reluctant to seek help, because they feel that it is a sign of personal weakness or a character flaw or that they should be able to "pull out of it" on their own. We now know that depression, like other medical conditions, has a chemical and biological basis. Treatment for depression is safe and usually effective even for severely depressed people.

It may be hard for you to recognize that you are depressed. If you think that you may be depressed, talk with your doctor. If depression is not treated, it can get worse over time and may slow your recovery. For more information, see the topic Depression.

Last Updated: June 30, 2009

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