Post-Stroke Depression and Cognitive Changes

Post-Stroke Depression and Cognitive Changes

Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Every year about795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. Of these individuals, approximately half will require long-term care as a result of their stroke. In addition to causing physical impairments that can impact daily living, stroke also affects mental health—including depression and anxiety disorders—which can have profound effects on rehabilitation outcomes and quality of life for survivors.

But what exactly is post-stroke depression? How can it affect the cognitive functioning and recovery of stroke survivors? Keep reading to learn more about the after-effects of stroke and how it affects mental and cognitive health. If your loved one has been diagnosed with post-stroke depression, Brookfield Assisted Living and Memory Care has the care and amenities they need.

What Is Post-Stroke Depression?

Post-stroke depression (PSD) is a common and serious complication after a stroke.Studies show that almost one-third of stroke survivors are affected by depression. Unfortunately, it's largely unrecognized, underdiagnosed, and under-treated.

Frontal lobe stroke is the most common type of stroke that may cause depression. This may be due to the frontal lobe being closely related to the brain's emotional and cognitive functions. The frontal lobe also plays a significant role in processing emotions and has a wide range of neural connections with many brain regions. If the person has a history of depression prior to the stroke, that can also increase their chances of developing post-stroke depression. 

Manystudies show a link between cognitive problems and post-stroke depression. So, some symptoms of post-stroke depression may include trouble with your memory and making decisions. You may also not find the things you used to love doing before as enjoyable. It’s important to talk with your doctor about how you are feeling so they can help diagnose and treat any problems with depression that may occur after having a stroke. The symptoms and degree of depression can vary depending on the individual, the type of stroke they experienced, and the severity of the stroke. 

Post-stroke depression is associated with the following problems:

Signs and Symptoms of Post-Stroke Depression

Symptoms of post-stroke depression are mostly similar to that of clinical depression. If you or your loved one have post-stroke depression, you might experience signs of apathy, anxiety, and disinterest in day-to-day activities and hobbies.

Apathy is usually the first sign of post-stroke depression, and it may occur within the first six months after the stroke. It can also happen while you're recovering from surgery, especially if your stroke was caused by a blood vessel blockage after an operation.

Anxiety is another key symptom in many people with post-stroke depression. It can be caused by the stroke itself, the fear of having another stroke, or the fear of dying. If left untreated, it can even result in suicidal thoughts. 

Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions are also symptoms associated with post-stroke depression. Many people with this condition also report experiencing insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) or excessive sleeping.

Stroke survivors with post-stroke depression might also find themselves feeling tired all the time. Body pain, headaches, cramps, or stomach issues that do not improve with treatment can also be signs of this condition. 

Diagnosing Post-Stroke Depression 

All stroke patients are at high risk of developing post-stroke depression. Early detection of PSD improves people’s chances of recovery. One way to detect post-stroke depression is to screen for significant depressive symptoms at regular intervals during the recovery process. Depression screening should be done by a professional and include:

Management and Treatment of Post-Stroke Depression at Brookfield Assisted Living and Memory Care

Music Therapy

Music therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses music to improve mood, cognitive function. and physical health. Music therapy has been shown to improve post-stroke depression by:

This is because music can act as an effective distraction from negative thoughts, helping you relax and feel more centered.

Light Therapy

Light therapy is helpful for some individuals with major depression who do not want to take medication or who are unable to take medicines due to other health problems. Both natural and artificial light can be effective. Exposure to sunlight for 5-30 minutes, 2–3 times per week allows the body to produce hormones that help maintain sufficient vitamin D and improve mood. 

However, light therapy is not recommended for people with bipolar disorder. It may be used in combination with drugs to treat major depression that has not responded to medication.

Physical Therapy

Physical activity has also been associated with improved mood and reduced anxiety in people with post-stroke depression. Walking, jogging, swimming, or bicycling are some of the things you can try to deal with PSD. People who participate in regular exercise programs also have lower rates of depression than those who do not engage in regular exercise programs. 

However, the effect of exercise on improving mood varies depending on the type of exercise performed. It appears that aerobic exercises (high intensity) are more effective than strength training (low intensity). Inone study comparing aerobic activity to strength training, participants showed significant improvement in depression after eight weeks but did not show significant improvement after 16 weeks. 

Social Support

Social support by family members and friends has been shown to improve emotional well-being after a stroke. This is because it helps stroke survivors cope with the effects of their condition, such as depression, low self-esteem, and social isolation.

Social support can take various forms such as:

When identified early and treated accordingly, post-stroke depression can be effectively managed. It is important to seek care for your loved one if they have been diagnosed by a physician.

At Brookfield Assisted Living and memory care in Arkansas, our experienced care staff and memory care team are committed to helping our residents who experience depression and cognitive decline. 

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with post-stroke depression,Brookfield offers many levels of care. If you are interested in learning more, please call us at(479) 855-5600.