Depression May Raise Risk for Early Death in Stroke Survivors
< Jan. 16, 2013 > -- It's normal to feel a little blue from time to time. But when feelings of sadness take over, it may be depression, a serious mental health condition that can affect all aspects of a person's life . For people who have suffered a stroke, depression may be especially harmful. A new study suggests stroke survivors who develop depression may die sooner.
Depression and stroke link
Researchers followed more than 10,000 Americans ages 25 to 74 for two decades, beginning in the early 1970s. During that time, study participants were screened for depression. Any incidents of stroke were also recorded. Researchers found that people who had suffered a stroke and then developed depression were three times more likely to die compared with study participants who did not have a stroke or depression.
What's the connection? Researchers aren't entirely certain why depression may raise the risk for death in stroke sufferers. The severity of the stroke may play a role. People who have severe strokes may be at higher risk for depression because of resulting disabilities that limit self-care. For instance, such people may be unable to exercise, take their medications properly, or perform routine daily activities such as getting dressed.
The link may also have a biological basis. A stroke causes brain damage. That damage, in turn, may cause stroke sufferers to be more prone to depression.
Warning signs of depression
Nearly one-third of people who have a stroke may develop depression. That makes awareness about the condition for stroke survivors especially important. Lead researcher Amytis Towfighi, M.D., recommends that stroke survivors and their families talk with their doctor about the risk for depression.
Also watch for the following symptoms:
The study results will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in March.
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Lowering Your Risk for Stroke
Stroke can strike at anytime, becoming more common as people grow older. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk for stroke - at any age - with the following strategies:
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.
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