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Orange County Register: Stroke survivors at higher risk of depression

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Aug 21

Published: Jan. 16, 2013 Updated: Aug. 21, 2013 1:17 p.m.

Study says families should watch for warning signs.

By LANDON HALL / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
One out of every three people who have had a stroke develop depression afterward. That group of survivors is three times as likely to die early as people who have not suffered a stroke, according to a new USC study.
The research, to be presented in March at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in San Diego, examined a large population – 10,550 people between the ages of 25 and 74. They were studied over the course of 21 years.
Article Tab: Vice President Joe Biden greets Sen. Mark Kirk (with cane) just outside the door of the Senate building at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 3. Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, suffered a major stroke last year and labored through physical therapy to return to work. At his left are Sens. Joe Manchin and Dick Durbin.
Vice President Joe Biden greets Sen. Mark Kirk (with cane) just outside the door of the Senate building at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 3. Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, suffered a major stroke last year and labored through physical therapy to return to work. At his left are Sens. Joe Manchin and Dick Durbin.
AP PHOTO BY EVAN VUCCI
Of that group, 2,291, or 22 percent, did not suffer a recurrence of stroke, but were diagnosed with depression. Another 48 people developed depression and also suffered a recurrence.
Dr. Amytis Towfighi, head of the department of neurology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, wrote the paper. He said the association with depression was known to exist among heart-attack survivors, but that little had been known about the risk of depression for stroke survivors.
“Our research highlights the importance of screening for and treating depression in people who have experienced a stroke,” Towfighi said in a statement. “Given how common depression is after stroke, and the potential consequences of having depression, looking for signs and symptoms and addressing them may be key.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression include persistent sadness and anxiety; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism or guilt; irritability or restlessness; loss of interest in activities, hobbies or sex; and insomnia.