The Road to Stroke Recovery: Managing Depression

A stroke is an unexpected major life-changing event for more than 795,000 Americans each year. Many stroke survivors’ recovery continues for years after their stroke, while some survivors will recover in a shorter amount of time. What all stroke survivors have in common is the road to recovery. The rehabilitation and recovery time requires a significant adjustment in the survivor’s lifestyle. The road to recovery is sprinkled with small wins, but for most survivors, it is paved with frustration and disappointment that can trigger depression.

Signs of Post-Stroke Depression

It is normal for stroke survivors to experience feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, fear and depression on the road to recovery. Life after a stroke can be significantly different to life before a stroke for the survivor and their family. Typical signs of depression commonly seen in stroke survivors include:

  • Persistent sad or “empty” feelings

  • Broken sleep

  • Increase or decrease in appetite

  • Social withdrawal

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities

  • Feeling worthless or hopeless

  • Feelings of guilt 

Tips to Manage Post-Stroke Depression

A physician will outline a treatment plan for stroke survivors with depression that will include medication and/or therapy. Here are a few tips that might help manage depression:

  • Communicate your feelings. Speak openly to your loved ones and rehabilitation treatment team.

  • Set goals and manage them.

  • Make the most of your rehab plan! The small wins along the road to gaining your life back will help boost spirits.

  • Spend time with loved ones.

  • Arrange to participate in activities you enjoyed prior to the stroke if you are still physically able.

  • Join a stroke support group to meet other survivors and share your recovery wins and frustrations.

  • Get information on stroke recovery from the National Stroke Association. Visit

  • As soon as you notice depression symptoms, contact your Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group neurologist.

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