Dealing with Post-Stroke Depression

Suffering from a stroke can often set you back mentally. No matter what the severity of the stroke is, it can have detrimental effects on your mood and general well-being. One thing you have to remember though is that these emotional changes are entirely normal. And there’s even better news (yes, really!), this is something you can fight!

Strokes can manifest out of nowhere. These things are unpredictable, and because suffering from a stroke affects all areas of your life, it can be a lot to deal with, both mentally and physically.

Every person, who suffers from a stroke, is different, but for a significant number of people, they’ll be quick to tell you that they feel like they lost the life they once had.

This change brings about a rollercoaster of emotions. You’ll feel anger, grief, shock, guilt, fear, and denial, all of which are 100% normal. These emotions are probably the most difficult things to deal with post-stroke, and perhaps what’s even more frustrating is that sometimes your loved ones and those close to you don’t understand what you’re experiencing!

One typical reaction after a stroke is putting on a brave face – very few want to admit how they feel. To recover properly and overcome these overwhelming emotions you might be feeling, you need to acknowledge them, which can take time and a whole lot of courage. If you leave them to fester, they will just escalate, which often leads to depression or high levels of anxiety.

What you’re going through is often compared to the grief cycle, and one of the greatest emotions you’re likely to feel after suffering from a stroke is anxiety.

Feeling anxious is normal after a stroke. You might think you’re going to suffer from another attack. You might be scared to spend time alone. Then, to add to your worries, you might also worry about your family or even money. Again, these are all normal post-stroke feelings, and as cliché as this may sound – time will heal, and with time, these feelings of angst will subside.

Speaking to someone helps. Bottling it all in can affect your recovery process, and if you don’t feel like you can chat with someone you know, you can always seek the help of a counsellor.

Anger is another emotion you might experience. After suffering from a stroke, things change and change is one of the hardest things to deal with. These feelings of acute anger and frustration will come and go, but these feelings can have a knock-on effect without you even realising it. They could affect your every day, but even worse it could also affect the way you behave towards others. Anger is just going to hold you back, and if you’ve ever felt a lot of anger in the past, you know too well it can have a detrimental effect on your health and recovery process.

Mood Swings and Emotions 

One thing you need to understand is that a stroke may alter your mood. No matter how hard you might try to control everything, it doesn’t always work – this is what’s known as an emotional liability. You may laugh or cry inappropriately at the smallest of things, and in some cases you might find yourself using vulgar language more despite having never done it before; it’s a terribly confusing period to endure.

It’s upsetting and embarrassing at times, which will isolate you more as you’ll try your hardest to avoid certain social situations or events, leaving you feeling alone and depressed. In some cases, it might seem like a vicious cycle.

Depression after a Stroke 

Sadness and the feeling of being upset after a stroke are normal, but it’s when these horrible feelings of hopelessness don’t go away. They hang around, lasting for weeks and in some cases months or years. You might discover you recover from a bout of depression only to be hit in the face with it again later on down the line, and then you find yourself back at square one wondering “Why me?”

Depression is not to ever be taken lightly. Your first step is recognising you need help and then getting all the support you need. Reach out to people instead of pushing them away and confide in those you trust.

As well as reaching out to friends and family, seeking medical support for your post-stroke depression is also important. Doctors and counsellors will guide you, advise you, and if necessary prescribe anti-depressants to help you deal with everything accordingly.

Try and be more active and get out. It’s amazing what a bit of fresh air and a walk can do. You most probably feel much safer in the four walls of your home, but what you’re doing is making everything worse.

When you feel like everything is crumbling and slipping out of your reach, look to your network of people. Explain to them how you feel and don’t shut yourself off. But most importantly, never forget that you’re not the only one feeling like this and you’re not alone!

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