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  • Writer's pictureDaish Malani

Mental health after stroke

After someone has a stroke the majority of the focus is usually on the physical aspects of

rehabilitation. Unfortunately, many people overlook the effect of a stroke on the patients mental health. In fact, the mental health of stroke victims is ignored by the majority of the rehabilitation industry and over a third of rehab services don't even have access to a clinical psychologist or neuro-psychologist (1).

Some of the most common mental health issues following stroke are depression, anxiety, fatigue and sleep disturbances (2).

The severity of these conditions depends on a few factors such as theamount of social support someone has, whether or not someone lives alone and their age. For example, people under 45 that have a stroke are much more likely to develop clinical depression(3).

One study found that almost half of stroke patients were living with depression 15 years after their stroke. The same study found around a third of people these people were also living with anxiety (4).

This is concerning because depression and anxiety in stroke patients has been linked to a

greater likelihood of re-hospitalisation and even death (5).

Therefore, it is very important that if a carer, or family member, of a stroke patient recognises signs of poor mental health they bring it to the attention of their rehab specialists. If your rehab clinic is one that doesn't offer mental health support, you could check out the Stroke Foundation's support page for information on support groups and services in your area that could help.

References and Links

1) Stroke Foundation – Mental Health Ignored in Stroke Rehabilitation

2) Terrill, A.L., Schwartz, J.K. and Belagaje, S.R., 2018. Best practices for the interdisciplinary

rehabilitation team: a review of mental health issues in mild stroke survivors. Stroke research and treatment, 2018.

3) Damsbo, A.G., Kraglund, K.L., Buttenschøn, H.N., Johnsen, S.P., Andersen, G. and Mortensen, J.K., 2020. Predictors for wellbeing and characteristics of mental health after stroke. Journal ofAffective Disorders, 264, pp.358-364.

4) Crichton, S.L., Bray, B.D., McKevitt, C., Rudd, A.G. and Wolfe, C.D., 2016. Patient outcomes up to 15 years after stroke: survival, disability, quality of life, cognition and mental health. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 87(10), pp.1091-1098.

5) Dossa, A., Glickman, M.E. and Berlowitz, D., 2011. Association between mental health

conditions and rehospitalization, mortality, and functional outcomes in patients with stroke

following inpatient rehabilitation. BMC health services research, 11(1), pp.1-10.

Author: Brad Hapke

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