Dr Mazvita Machinga
IT is very difficult to hear that your loved one has had a stroke.After a stroke, people often experience emotional and behavioral changes.
Having a stroke is a life-changing event.This is because stroke affects the brain, and our brain controls our behaviour and emotions. Depression and anxiety are common after a stroke. After a stroke, it is normal to feel sad or worried as you recover and stabilise. But if you feel sad, down or miserable and be unable to move on,you may have depression.Stroke survivors may also feel anxiety and anger.
In this article, I will focuse on Post-Stroke Depression (PSD). People who have been affected by stroke may suffer from post-stroke depression.
Post stroke depression can have adverse effects on cognitive function, functional recovery and survival.If this depression is left untreated and unmanaged, it can worsen and complicate recovery process.
There are various post-stroke conditions such as malnutrition, incontinence, pain, fatigue, and sleep issues that a person may experience. Depressive emotions can increase in individuals especially when they are frustrated about not making progress in recovery. The sad thing is that post-stroke depression often goes undiagnosed.
In the case of post stroke depression, a multidisciplinary holistic approach is essential for moving forward and recovery. It is important that doctors, physiotherapist, psychologists, social workers and clergy work together to assist affected individuals.
Effect of Post Stroke Depression on Recovery
Post stroke depression can make it difficult to manage from day to day, and to participate in your rehabilitation. It interferes with the recovery process when one seems to be unable to cooperate.
Apart from physiological challenges, a post stroke person may need psychological and spiritual support.
Depression may affect a person’s ability to meet functional goals, to reintegrate into society and to recover. Post stroke depression has been linked with feelings of hopelessness, anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, fear in varying degrees. Individuals will have low mood or diminished interests.
They will have lack of motivation to engage in meaningful activities that will help them recover. There is always poor progression through rehabilitation, worse physical function, Impaired cognitive functioning and, increased caregiver stress. So, what is the way forward when a loved one is suffering from this.
Recovering from Post- Stroke Depression
While post stroke depression is common, it is highly treatable. Recovery is possible and there are many things that can help. The sooner one gets help, the sooner one will move towards recovery from the depression. The problem is that many times focus goes only on physical recovery while neglecting emotional and psychological care. So, it is important that once one is out of danger physically and as they are taking their medication, participating in physiotherapy, they also need to go through occupational therapy and psychotherapy.
This will help an individual process what is going through them. It is important that you visit your medical doctor so that you can get advice when you are feeling low, a sense of hopelessness and sadness.
Psychotherapy can be helpful in patients with milder cognitive and functional impairments and pharmacological interventions may be needed where necessary. You may need sessions of psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy so that you get help in processing your journey. While depression can be detected after stroke, it should not be part of the recovery.
Dr Mazvita Machinga PhD. is a psychotherapist based in Mutare. Call 0778 83 84 10 or 0771 754 519 for counseling and psychotherapy.