The psychological impact of a stroke

The psychological impact of a stroke

When someone suffers a stroke, they often face changes in their motor skills, speech and language, comprehension, and vision. But one of the lesser discussed effects of stroke are mental health changes, including anxiety and mood disorders.

A stroke can leave a person with temporary or even long-term physical and mental deficits, which can feel frustrating or anxiety-inducing. Try to imagine not being able to remember what someone just said to you – or how to walk. Some individuals don’t even feel like the same person after suffering a stroke. The devastating effects of stroke can take an obvious toll on a person’s mental health.

According to the American Stroke Association, one to two-thirds of all stroke survivors experience depression. And if depression is left untreated, stroke recovery can be severely affected. Symptoms of post-stroke depression include, but aren’t limited to, continual feelings of sadness, sleeping problems and a lack of motivation.

Anxiety is another common emotional change individuals experience after a stroke. Anxiety can be perpetuated by worrying about the body’s ability to perform tasks that once came naturally, such as speaking or standing.

If you or someone you know is struggling mentally after suffering a stroke, don’t wait to seek support. Reach out to your primary care provider to discuss what you are going through and get help. Also, support groups are often helpful for stroke survivors and caregivers.

Dr. Thomas Wolfe is a neurologist at Aurora Health Care.

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Dr. Thomas Wolfe