For many stroke survivors, post-stroke depression is a very real and difficult problem. In fact, approximately one-third of stroke sufferers are affected by post-stroke depression. However, just as there continues to be progress on the prevention and treatment of strokes, there are advances in treatment for post-stroke depression, including options that are drug-free, a welcome option for many regarding improved or restored quality of life.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, depression is characterized by a feeling of hopelessness that interferes with functioning and quality of life. In the case of stroke survivors, depression can be the result of changes in the brain that are a direct result of injury to the brain during the stroke or depression can come about as a normal psychological response to losses suffered in the stroke, such as motor control. (strokeassociation.org) If depression is left untreated, it can impede progress of recovery and rehabilitation, negatively impacting quality of life. Symptoms of post-stroke depression vary by person in terms of frequency, severity and duration, but there are things that loved ones can watch for to help them recognize if someone is experiencing post-stroke depression.
- Persistent sad, anxious or empty feelings
- Sleep disturbances
- Change in eating patterns
- Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering details
- Aches, pains or headaches that do not ease with treatment
- Suicidal thoughts
Treatments for post-stroke depression vary as widely as symptoms do. In the past, traditional treatments for depression have largely been through drug therapies. Unfortunately, with these types of drugs, side effects are common and in many cases undesirable as well. Sleeplessness, fatigue and drowsiness, nausea, constipation and dry mouth are a few of the common side effects. However, treatment through the expanding field of Chiropractic Neurology is becoming more and more desirable for patients as it is drug-free and non-invasive.
Chiropractic Neurology is brain-based care that addresses the brain and central nervous system together. The nervous system, or the master control center for the body runs every organ, tissue and cell in our body. There is a constant feedback system relaying messages to the brain and it is vital to keep this system functioning properly for overall well being. By examining the joints, and especially the joints in the spine, your Chiropractic neurologist can ensure a healthier nervous system, staving off depression, pain and many other conditions that post-stroke patients encounter. Chiropractic neurology works with the plasticity of the brain, or our brain’s ability to heal itself through the regeneration of pathways that restore our bodies optimal health. Chiropractic neurology is suitable for patients of all ages and recent studies have shown that this type of therapy is one of the most powerful tools for rehabilitation.
Just as important as finding the right treatment for the patient is managing depression during and after treatment. Left unmanaged, depression can worsen over time, and in turn, worsen other post-stroke conditions as well such as pain, fatigue, malnutrition and sleep disorders. Some key factors in managing post-stroke depression include communication, attention to proper nutrition, setting realistic goals and practicing stress and anxiety management techniques. In addition, many patients may find a support group helpful and the National Stroke Association’s Stroke Support Group Registry lists hundreds of support groups across the United States.
If you or someone you know has suffered a stroke, is experiencing post-stroke symptoms including depression, please call us today at the Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center to see the many ways in which we can help. If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please get help right away.