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Sharp Health News

What you need to know about stroke and depression

Oct. 25, 2016

Stroke and depression

For many middle-aged and older adults who suffer a stroke, depression is a common and serious complication.

A 2016 study suggests there is an increased risk of depression during the first three months after suffering a stroke. Data on depression diagnosis among a large group of stroke patients was compared with those who hadn’t suffered a stroke. Results showed survivors were eight times more likely to experience depression.

According to Dr. Michael Plopper, medical director of clinical trials at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, the risk of depression after stroke has been recognized by medical professionals for some time; however, the data suggesting the likelihood was striking.

“It’s a pretty amazing statistic,” says Dr. Plopper. “However, it’s understandable that a stroke survivor can have an emotional reaction to having lost function as a consequence of stroke.”

Different functions that can be affected include mobility, speech, concentration and cognition. A person’s ability to adapt to these challenges can be impacted by the change in dependency needs and changes in their social life; that, in turn, can contribute to depression.

Additionally, there are direct neurochemical effects that affect the brain following a stroke. Depending on the location in the brain where the stroke occurred, the risk of depression can increase.

Dr. Plopper offers the following signs of post-stroke depression:

  • Lack of interest or enthusiasm
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Increased dependency
  • Changes in sleep or appetite

For those who suffered from depression prior to a stroke, the probability of continuing depression with worsening symptoms is high, sometimes making rehabilitation more challenging.

“Recovery from stroke is very much affected by a person’s attitude, capabilities and belief systems after having a stroke,” says Dr. Plopper.

According to Dr. Plopper, engaging in rehabilitative services is imperative for people who have post-stroke depression to ensure they are getting the treatment they need. Treatment for depression can be effective and may include anti-depressant medication, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital offers intensive inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment for adults and seniors experiencing depression.

For the news media: To talk with Dr. Plopper about the risk of depression after a stroke for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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