Depression Often Follows Stroke, But Treatment Lacking

Study found nearly 1 in 5 stroke patients were depressed months after the attack

Topics: Depression Heart / Stroke-Related Problems: Stroke Neurology

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- While depression is common among people who've survived a stroke, it too often goes undiagnosed and untreated, research shows.

"Patients need to be open about their symptoms of depression and discuss them with their physicians so that they can work together to improve outcomes," study co-author Dr. Nada El Husseini, a stroke fellow in the neurology division at Duke University Medical Center, said in a news release from the journal Stroke.

The study included 1,450 adults survivors of ischemic stroke (involving blocked blood flow to the brain) and 397 with a transient ischemic attack (TIA or "mini-stroke").

The researchers found that about 18 percent of the stroke patients and more than 14 percent of the TIA patients were depressed three months after their hospitalization.

Twelve months after hospitalization, 16.4 percent of stroke patients and almost 13 percent of TIA patients had depression, according to the study, published March 29 in the journal Stroke.

El Husseini believes that "it is important for physicians to screen for depression on follow-up after both stroke and TIA."

The study also found that nearly 70 percent of stroke and TIA patients with persistent depression were not receiving antidepressant therapy at either three or 12 months after hospitalization.

Most patients with stroke had only mild disability and only a few TIA patients had severe disability, but depression rates in both groups of patients were similar.

"The similar rates of depression following stroke and TIA could be due to similarities in the rates of other medical conditions or to the direct effects of brain injury on the risk of depression, but more studies are needed," El Husseini said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression and stroke.

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