Depression, a big Challenge to Recovery/Rehabilitation after a Stroke

Ad Adams

Ad Adams Ebenezer is a co-founder of the Stroke Association Supportnetwork (SASNET) Ghana. He is also a board of director of the World Stroke Organization.

Adams has been actively involved in the testing and launching of the Post Discharge Stroke Support (PDSS) around the world, collaborating with teams from South Africa and the United States.


Depression, a big Challenge to Recovery/Rehabilitation after a Stroke

“About one in eight survivors of stroke have suicidal ideation, according to a study published online in the Journal of Neurology,”. Depression affects the survivor’s quality of life after a stroke. It also make it more challenging for those affected with stroke to recover. Findings from current studies shows that, depression can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVDs), which in turn increases the risk of experiencing a second stroke. Mortality rates are 10 times higher in people who experience depression after a stroke (Ginta et al).

Depression is a common experience for persons living with stroke and their carers . It’s commonly caused by biochemical changes in the brain. When the brain is injured, the survivor may not be able to feel positive emotions as a result of the effect from the injury. Depression can also be a normal psychological reaction which may be experienced by persons living with stroke and their carers.

Possible causes of depression may include a combination of biological, psychological and social sources of distress. Research suggest that these factors may cause changes in brain function, including altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain (AHA).

Common symptoms of depression Includes:

  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness or helplessness.
  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood.
  • Restlessness and irritability.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities.
  • Decreased energy and fatigue, and feeling “slowed down”.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions.
  • Insomnia, early morning awakening , oversleeping.
  • Appetite, overeating or weight changes.

Caregivers/carers must be aware of the emotional state of those living with stroke in order to provide the needed support at all times.

Category of persons with stroke who are at risk for depression

  • Those who have had previous mental illness.
  •  Females.
  • Those with  previous  traumatic brain injury.
  • Those with history of  Parkinson’s disease or other neuromuscular disorders.
  • Those who live alone.

It’s very important to seek help from professionals such as; Clinical psychologist, psychologist , psychiatrist, clinicians.  Treating depression improves mood,  boost physical, cognitive and intellectual recovery. Social support for persons living with stroke is very crucial in the treatment of depression.

Several studies shows that, depression goes hand in hand with lower levels of support (AHA).  Look to your family, friends, stroke support group such as SASNET GHANA’s stroke support community, etc  for help. Health professionals, carers, family members, friends, etc, involved in recovery processes must be aware of the survivor’s depressed condition and  respond to it appropriately. It is very important we  note that ,when we provide the right treatment and support to persons living with stroke, it helps to ease the pain and move the survivor down the road to recovery.

Register for free to receive psychological support online  :

ACCESS FREE SUPPORT : Person living with stroke and their carers can  have answers to their mind boggling questions and access information on stroke care and support  by signing up to the Post Discharge Stroke Support(PDSS) Program by the Stroke Association Supportnetwork-Ghana (SASNET-GHANA).

Visit our  website below for more information    or email us :

Helpline + 233594989496 or  WhatsApp us +233262463986

Sign up to  Ask Dr Charway –Felli Platform for more  support from the Professionals

Register for free support online here :