After a person has a stroke, a neurological condition in which the blood supply to a part of the brain becomes disrupted, she may experience emotional changes. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted that up to one-third of patients who survive having a stroke suffer from post-stroke depression. Patients with post-stroke depression may experience social withdrawal, trouble sleeping, fatigue and lethargy. Changes in eating patterns may occur, which result in either weight gain or weight loss. Other symptoms of post-stroke depression include irritability and suicidal thoughts.
Patients with post-stroke depression may take antidepressants or attend psychological therapy to cope with their symptoms. With psychological intervention, studies have looked at different techniques that may be more effective with stroke patients. In 2009, a study funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research investigated the efficacy of an intervention called Living Well with Stroke on post-stroke depression. That study included more than 100 stroke survivors, who either received the counseling intervention or usual post-stroke care; patients receiving the Living Well with Stroke intervention had nine counseling sessions, which occurred over two months, with a stroke rehabilitation nurse who taught problem-solving skills and help improve mood. The press release from the National Institutes of Health reported that immediately after treatment, 47 percent of patients in the intervention no longer met the criteria for depression compared to 19 percent of the control group; one year later; 48 percent of the intervention group no longer met criteria, compared to 27 percent of the control group.
In a new study published in the journal Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers looked at whether a type of therapy called motivational interviewing would help with post-stroke depression.