One-third of stroke survivors have depression afterward

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One-third of stroke survivors have depression afterward

Joint statement by U.S. heart, stroke associations involves UW Nursing prof
Elizabeth Hunter-Keller

Post-stroke depression (PSD) affects about one-third of all stroke survivors, according to a new joint statement by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. It is the groups' first such statement on post-stroke depression.

Depression after stroke is associated with poorer health and quality of life, and those patients may be prone to subsequent vascular events and death.


Pamela Mitchell
Mitchell was an author of the statement on post-stroke depression.
picture of Pamela Mitchell

The statement had several authors, appointed by dint of their relevant research; among them is Pamela Mitchell, executive associate dean and professor at the University of Washington School of Nursing.  She has led interdisciplinary research teams from the UW, working with stroke neurologists, psychiatrists, nurse scientists, clinical psychologists and advanced practice nurses.

“This statement is timely because it clearly indicates the magnitude of the problem, with stroke and depression being the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and the world," Mitchell said. "Equally important, the statement clearly indicates that PSD is readily assessed by specialty and generalist nurses, physicians and other healthcare providers.  Evidence is growing that a variety of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments, such as antidepressants and ‘talking’ therapy, are available.” 

The statement resulted from a comprehensive review of literature and research, clinical and epidemiological studies, and expert opinion. The statement uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders definition of depression as it occurs in stroke survivors. In these cases, depression stems from biological and psychosocial elements. The authors found that physical disability, strove severity, a history of depression, and cognitive impairment were associated with developing post-stroke depression, as was a patient's lack of support from family or friends.

It is the hope of the authors and the associations that outcomes for stroke survivors can be improved by addressing the prevalence of post-stroke depression and readily available treatment. 

Media contact: Liz Hunter-Keller, 206.519.7690