Q: My dad had a stroke last summer and seemed to be recovering well until right after Christmas when he began showing signs of depression. I've read about post-stroke depression but didn't realize it could surface so long after his stroke. Is this possible and what can we do to help him cope?
Post-stroke depression can set in weeks, months or even years after a stroke and in many cases, like with your dad, it may be unexpected and can interfere with the healing process, both physical or psychological. A stroke can change someone's life in an instant. A once active, avid tennis player, for example, can suddenly lose the ability to walk without assistance. Someone who loves to read may no longer be able to focus on or comprehend simple sentences. This, along with genetics or other social factors, can trigger depression. First and foremost, if you suspect a loved one is suffering from post-stroke depression, you should contact his/her healthcare provider. There are many options for treatment depending on the patient's health history and stage of recovery. Recommended treatments can include medication and various forms of therapy like mental health and cognitive behavioral health therapy. Additionally, there are some practical management strategies that can be implemented at home to help fight depression. This includes more open communication between stroke survivor and their family, friends and caregivers, and improved nutrition to include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and vitamin B, to name a few. Support groups are also highly recommended for those dealing from post-stroke depression and especially their caregivers.
Support groups are also highly recommended for those dealing from post-stroke depression and especially their caregivers. Maui Memorial Medical Center offers a monthly Stroke Support Group every third Wednesday, from 4 to 5 p.m. Each meeting focuses on a different topic and guest speakers provide additional expertise on stroke education and prevention. Call 808.442.5255 for more information.