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Stroke is a cerebrovascular disease. When blood supply to the brain is reduced or blocked, brain cells will suffer anoxia and become paralyzed within minutes, causing dysfunction of the body part responsible by the affected cells, e.g. limbs paralysis, loss of language ability, dementia, etc.  As there is considerable change in the patient's physical condition after suffering a stroke, it is easy to trigger a depressive mood.
 
Post-stroke of depression usually peaks at 3 to 6 months after stroke. Depression symptoms caused by stroke are similar to common depression, such as:
  
  1. Persistent low mood, such as feeling down or empty
  2. Losing interest or joy in activities
  3. Significant decrease or increase in body weight, or significant decrease or increase in appetite
  4. Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  5. Easily irritated or lacking interest in responding
  6. Obvious fatigue
  7. 7) Feeling worthless, guilty or self-blaming
  8. 8) Weak in coming up with ideas or making decisions
  9. 9) Having suicidal thoughts repeatedly
 
If the patient has shown 5 or more such symptoms (including item 1 or 2) and they last for two weeks and above, attention should be given to possibility of depression. Since the situation does not only affect the quality of life of the stroke patient but also recovery of the affected functions, it is necessary to have early treatment.
 
What triggers depression after stroke
 
Depression triggered by loss in body functions

Post-stroke depression is usually attributed to physical dysfunction caused by stroke, leading to inability to live independently, coupled with lack of social support.  Therefore, the severity of impaired cognitive function caused by stroke is a factor that causes depression after stroke.
 
How to treat post-stroke depression
 
Delay in treating post-stroke depression often leads to worsening of health conditions such as malnutrition, persistent fatigue and sleeping problem. Post-stroke depression can be treated and early consultation with the doctor can help determine the best course of action.  General speaking, the doctor would recommend various ways to treat the depression, such as medication and different kinds of therapies. 
 
There are also a lot more which can be done by family members to help the patient fight depression. These are some of the tips:
 
  1. Encourage the patient to talk about his feelings and concerns which bother him;
  1. Include in the daily diet food which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, walnuts), folic acid (beans, oranges), Vitamin B (egg, milk), and complex carbohydrates (brown rice, oatmeal). Dark chocolate also help fight fatigue.
  1. Help him think about things a little at a time, breaking complicated issues into smaller manageable pieces.
  1. Be patient with the stroke patient and accompany him in activities that will improve physical fitness, such as walking, swimming, and help him to get used of adaptive equipment such as walking sticks, walkers.
  1. Encourage patient to get back to normal life and join patient group if needed.
  1. Encourage patient to minimize alcohol consumption and smoking.
 
(Source: National Stroke Association)
 
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