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The 10 Commandments of Post Stroke Depression Treatment That Actually Work!

post stroke depression
People don't choose to be depressed, but they do make a choice on how to deal with it.

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Ever wonder if depression after a stroke is normal? Is it something that you should medicate with prescriptions or is there a way? 

As a life insurance agent, I get the pleasure of working with a lot of stroke survivors who express their concerns about if they can get a policy after having a stroke and after being diagnosed with depression after a stroke. 

Being denied life insurance certainly doesn’t help someone who is depressed. So I decided on working with these clients to research information they believed will help them with their post stroke depression. 

In this article I will go over an alternative that works without having to rely on prescription medications.

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Stroke and depression: is it common for stroke survivors to experience depression after a stroke?

For over a 100 years now,  psychiatrists have known about Post-stroke depression (PSD), but it was not studied systematically until in the 1970s. Advances in studies have been quite difficult and slow because of the relatively few patients available for the research.

post stroke depressionWith the aim of building large databases, meta-analyzers have merged patients with serious mood disorders and major depressive features with patients who are fairing relatively better on the depression rating scales.

In the past, this had made them miss important findings such as the cognitive impairment associated with major but not minor depression.

With all that being said, I will summarize by saying that Post-Stroke depression is very common and so, constitutes an important but dangerous ripple effect of stroke.

It could unfortunately lead to some level of disability and even worse – an increased chance of death. 

Due to how dangerous this condition is, I have written down 10 commandments which can be important methods to help manage this problem.

Commandment #1 - Monitor yourself on a daily basis:

Always check how you’re feeling and monitor your mood.

When ever you feel depressed, try to improve you mood as soon as possible. You may decide to do so in the company of friends or just try to do something that gives you joy.

post stroke depressionWhenever you feel good, try and share the mood with others so they too can be happy. You may also try and create your own ways of keeping these positive moments in mind so that you can fall back to them when next you feel down.  

Commandment #2 - Exercise regularly:

Stroke has been known to cause changes in Hormone regulation and this may lead to increase in the level of cortisol present in the body.

This increase in cortisol can lead to sluggishness, alter your normal blood pressure, cause fatigue, increase weight, and lead to changes in ones emotions. All these can be prevented by normal, simple exercises.

post stroke depressionDid you know that exercise can make you feel good emotionally?

Commandment #3 - Try and engage your mind in positive things:

post stroke depressionDoing yoga, Meditation, tai-chi, or stretches have been proven to help with the problem of reducing stress.

Commandment #4 - Make sure to fully know the difference between depression and anxiety:

Both conditions are as a result of mood alterations and it is possible to experience both at the same time. If this happens, it could make your recovery really difficult.

Anxiety has to do with a feeling of fear and worry and it could be really dangerous. It can affect you in many ways, it could even make your sessions with your therapist very daunting.

 Anxiety is something you should not diagnose yourself with, instead, implore the help of a physician. Another thing you should know is that medications meant for depression may be ineffective when used on anxiety, or else using them could make things worse by developing unforeseen conditions. 

Commandment #5 - Educate yourself more on the condition:

You’re doing that now so kudos! Clearly you are on the track already.

Make sure to learn more on the symptoms, and management of stroke and share what you’ve learned with those close to you. Use this as a medium to share with people information on how stroke has affected your life.

You could quickly search on the symptoms of stroke using this acronym F.A.S.T.

F here stands for face drooping.

A stands for arm weakness or arm numbness.

S stands for speech related problems like difficulty in remembering words.

T stands for time.

This is to remind you to dial 911 if you experience stroke symptoms or find someone manifesting them.

Commandment #6 - Maintain a strong immune system:

post stroke depressionDo you know that your immune responses can be reduced due to depression? Since this is possible, when you notice you are feeling depressed, try and take vitamins that can help build and strengthening your immune system. 

Commandment #7 - Try to be more social:

post stroke depressionTry and engage in group activities like exercise classes, book clubs, chatting with funny people and most of all, keep in touch with people you love and those that love you. You should also try and make new friends. 

Commandment #8 - Visit your doctor regularly:

Make sure to let your doctor know how you are feeling and tell him or her all about your depression incidents. It will help make your doctor’s job much easier and effective on you.

Commmandment #9 - Implore the help of other stroke survivors:

post stroke depressionIt has been proven that rubbing minds with people passing through similar situations as you could help you get better. So, I advise you look for support groups and join. Essentially, get yourself involved in some form of activity that doesn’t make you feel lonely.

Commandment #10 - Treat yourself:

post stroke depressionTreatment may be medical or non medical. You could go for counselling, take medications, or you could even use both methods.

If you are going to treat yourself try to do so early as the earlier the better when it comes to managing stroke.

So what about treatment for post stroke depression?

Has medical treatment really been any help?

There is a track record of seeing improvement in post stroke depression through the use of prescription medication.

Random methods can be used in this case. The first double-blind treatment trial ever done was published in 1984 by Lipsey along with other leading scientists in this space.

post stroke depressionThere were 6 patients that underwent this trial,  and they were administered nortriptyline (50 mg–100 mg/day) randomly. These patients showed a significant reduction in the Hamilton Depression Scale when measured with the Rating Scale (HAM-D).

Their test treatment lasted for a little more than 6 weeks. When their recovery rate was compared versus patients that were administered placebos, theirs were found to be significantly better.

Would it be bad to try to use non-pharmacological methods of treatment?

I would ask you to consider engaging anti depression treatments without any pharmacology. These treatments are the most realistic solutions. In addition to this, you can now engage in psycho therapeutic intervention. 

post stroke depressionThe potency of psycho therapeutic interventions, is still debatable because methodological limitations are usually present in existing research and so this prevents permanent conclusions.

Therefore, you won’t find a lot of information on whether it really works. You can try finding ways to experiment safely on your own to see if there is any progress over time.

You’ll want to commit to at least 3 months of trying as there will be a learning curve before you can really consistently practice psycho therapeutic intervention.

Unfortunately, the most commonly used therapeutic approach to post-stroke depression these days is during the subacute phase. This is done after stroke, and is purely pharmacological.

This method is very expensive and so it’s not accessible to everyone. It is also time consuming, and doesn’t yield quick responses. Wasting time this way can significantly reduce the chances of a proper recovery. 

So it is advisable that in addition to this, you should also try out other treatment and rehabilitation procedures.

Conclusion

Studies show that that depression goes hand in hand with support. It’s crucial for you to let people know how you are feeling in order for you to feel better.

Family and/or medical professionals are always a good choice, but other stroke survivors are the best support. We recommend Facebook stroke support groups as the perfect start.

Log on now and join one ! 

About the author

Victor Vega has over a decade of experience in working with individuals regarding their personal finances after starting in 2007 at Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor. I started Garden Mutual in 2020 so that you could have access to a life insurance agent that puts your interests first! As an independent agent, I work with over 10 carriers. This means that my loyalty is to my customer and not any one particular insurance company . Let me provide you with objective information that you can use to pick the best life insurance policy for yourself today.  We are always looking to improve ourselves for your benefit!

If there are any problems with the information in this article would it be ridiculous to let us know in the comment section below?

Email me at info@gardenmutual.com or call me at 908-292-8014.

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