Around one-third of people who have had a stroke will experience depression. This can arise due to social isolation or biological factors. However, treatments, such as psychotherapy, antidepressants, and light therapy, can help.
This article discusses what stroke and depression are, how the two are connected, and treatments for depression after a stroke. It also answers some common questions about depression following a stroke.
A stroke, which some people
A stroke may severely damage parts of the brain and cause long-term disability or death.
Symptoms of stroke
- sudden weakness and numbness, particularly on one side of the body
- sudden difficulty seeing from one or both eyes
- sudden confusion
- sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- a sudden severe headache without an obvious cause
- sudden difficulty walking and lack of coordination and balance
The causes of stroke vary depending on which type a person experiences. The below are common causes of a stroke.
In hemorrhagic stroke, a weakened blood vessel in the brain
An aneurysm is a
An ischemic stroke
A clot may form at a fatty plaque within a narrow blood vessel in the brain — doctors refer to this as cerebral thrombosis. Alternatively, a clot may break away from blood vessels in another bodily area and travel to the brain, where it cannot pass through a narrow blood vessel. Healthcare professionals call this a cerebral embolism.
Depression is a serious mood disorder that can cause severe symptoms. It can affect how a person thinks, feels, and deals with aspects of daily life, such as eating, sleeping, and working. A doctor can diagnose depression if a person has experienced symptoms for
Symptoms of depression can vary between people, but common symptoms include:
- guilty thoughts
- low energy
- changes to sleep patterns
- changes in appetite
- loss of interest in activities
- lack of concentration
- body aches and pains
- suicidal thoughts
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Health experts do not completely understand the physiological processes relating to post-stroke depression. However, they suggest that there are links to psychological responses to social isolation and coping with disability, as well as biological factors, which include:
- the disruption of neural pathways
- disruptions to neurotrophic factors, proteins that
supportthe growth and development of neurons
- disruptions in pathways for serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters
Risk factors that contribute to depression after stroke include:
- physical disability
- depression before stroke
- severe stroke
- cognitive impairment
People who experience post-stroke depression
Standard treatment for depression can involve:
Below are answers to some common questions about depression after a stroke.
Is depression a side effect of stroke?
What type of stroke causes depression?
Any stroke that causes disability, social isolation, or damage to the brain
Can a stroke cause emotional changes?
Yes, a person
Depression after a stroke is common, and around one-third of people who survive a stroke experience it. Post-stroke depression may occur due to psychological responses to a disability or social isolation, biological factors, such as inflammation, genetics, or a disruption in neural pathways and chemicals.
Treatment for depression, such as psychotherapy and antidepressants, may be effective for managing post-stroke depression.