A major study has revealed the heightened risk of depression for survivors of strokes.
According to researchers at Copenhagen University in Denmark, people are about eight times more likely to experience depression in the first three months after a stroke.
But it’s also clear the risk remains over time.
Almost 25 percent of patients had a diagnosis of depression within two years of a stroke compared with less than eight per cent of people who didn’t have a stroke.
“The frequency of depression in stroke patients is also much higher as compared to patients experiencing other acute somatic events such as a heart attack,” senior study author Dr Merete Osler told Reuters. “It seems that some imbalance in the brain induced by the stroke may cause stroke patients to be more susceptible to depression.”
The research, published in JAMA Psychiatry, notes than 30 million people around the world live with a stroke diagnosis.
Experts say the findings mean doctors and families of stroke survivors should be on the lookout for symptoms of mental health issues.
“Depression is common and it is ok to feel flat and down after a stroke,” says Dr Craig Anderson from the University of Sydney, “however, sometimes this can be more serious and require treatment.”
He says untreated depression can increase the risk of another stroke and other serious cardiovascular problems, including death.
The Danish study examined data from 157,243 people hospitalised for the first time with a stroke from 2001 to 2011 and compared it with data from 160,236 similar people without a stroke.
Their findings also show that the risk for depression increases with age, is greater for women and for people who live alone.