Stroke

15 March 2011

Depression affects independence of stroke survivors

Stroke survivors, even if they escape severe mental impairment, are less likely to be independent if they are depressed, older, or have other medical problems, say researchers.

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Stroke survivors, even if they escape severe mental impairment, are less likely to be independent if they are depressed, older, or have other medical problems, say researchers.

They analysed data from 367 stroke survivors, average age 62, who had no severe language or thinking skill impairments. Of those patients, 174 were diagnosed with depression one month after their stroke.

The patients' levels of independence were rated using a zero to five scale, with five being the most severely disabled and dependent. Three months after their stroke, 20% of the patients scored three or higher, meaning they were considered dependent.

Stroke survivors who were severely depressed, older and had other health problems were more likely to be dependent than those who were younger, free of other health problems or not depressed. The study appears in the journal Neurology.

Depression after a stroke

"Post-stroke depression is a common problem. About 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year and one-third of survivors develop depression as a result," said study author Arlene Schmid, of the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Indiana University in Indianapolis.

The researchers did not examine whether improvement in depression helped stroke survivors recover their independence after three months.

"Even if the treatment and improvement of post-stroke depression does not directly influence recovery, it is extremely important for depression to be identified and treated since it is associated with other health and social problems," Schmid said.


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