July 11, 2008

Post-Stroke Depression Often Neglected

People who have had a stroke and the people who are close to them need more support in order to manage the consequences of stroke, German researchers said.

German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Healthcare researchers said that in addition to the physical disabilities, the psychological burden is difficult to cope with -- not only stroke patients who become depressed, their friends and relatives often become depressed too.

The researchers found that using antidepressants after a stroke does not have the effect expected and because of adverse effects and interactions with other drugs, antidepressants should only be used with caution.

The success of stroke rehabilitation also depends on patients playing an active role in their own treatment, Peter Sawicki, director of the German institute, said in a statement. Rehabilitation is demanding, requiring a lot of patience and motivation. If people become depressed, it is very difficult for them to have the necessary motivation. The problem of depression after strokes has been neglected.

Relatives and friends who look after stroke patients need more support," Sawicki said.

Sawicki said that for information on coping psychologically after a stroke see the Web site: InformedHealthOnline.org.