Strokes are more common among the elderly than the young, and many people who suffer a stroke may also have other pre-existing health conditions. But when those same people develop depression after experiencing a stroke, their risk of becoming dependent on others is significantly increased, according to a new study. “Post-stroke depression is a common problem. About 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year and one third of survivors develop depression as a result,” said study author Arlene Schmid, PhD, OTR, with the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Indiana University in Indianapolis. “We wanted to see whether depression and other factors affected function and dependence after a stroke.”
The researchers used information from over 350 ischemic stroke survivors to conduct the study. The average age of those examined was 62, and none of the participants presented any cognitive or speech impairments at the onset of the study. Thirty days after their strokes, over one half of the participants were identified as having developed depression. They were evaluated for their dependence on others, using a numeric scale, and were again tested after 90 days. At the three month mark, nearly one fifth of the participants were identified as being dependent on others for their care.
The findings revealed that the participants with depression were at a higher risk for becoming dependent if they were older or had other pre-existing health conditions. Additionally, severely depressed participants were more likely to become dependent than younger, otherwise healthy participants. The researchers did not evaluate the effect of lessening depression on independence during the three month period. “Even if the treatment and improvement of post-stroke depression does not directly influence recovery, it is extremely important for depression to be identified and treated since it is associated with other health and social problems,” Schmid said.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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