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Effects of stroke: Emotional effects

  • Your stroke can affect you physically and emotionally.

    Changes after your stroke may be mild or severe. Changes may be brief or long-lasting. This depends on the area of your brain affected by the stroke and how extensive the damage is.

    Emotional changes

    You may have emotional changes if the stroke damaged parts of your brain that control behavior. These changes may also be caused by your body's reaction to the stroke.

    Talk with your doctor if your emotional changes become severe or if they don't go away. You may find help by talking with a counselor or psychotherapist.

    Changes that may occur may include:

    • Anxiety: You may feel uneasy or anxious for no reason.
    • Depression: It is normal for you to feel sad after your stroke. But there's a deeper sadness that may show up right after the stroke or many weeks later. Being dependent on others may cause you frustration. This may lead to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and poor self-esteem. Depression may also be caused by chemical imbalances in your brain. You need to call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:
      • feeling sad, blue or down in the dumps
      • losing interest in things you used to enjoy
      • feeling sluggish, restless or unable to sit still
      • feeling worthless or guilty
      • having an increase or decrease in appetite or weight
      • having problems concentrating, thinking, remembering or making decisions
      • having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
      • having headaches
      • having aches and pains
      • having digestive problems
      • having sexuality problems
      • feeling pessimistic or hopeless
      • being anxious or worried
      • having relationship problems with your family, friends, or caregiver
      • having thoughts of death or suicide.
    • Emotional lability (limited control over your feelings and reactions): You may laugh, cry or get upset more easily or at the wrong times.
    • Loss of inhibition: Temper outbursts (verbal or physical) may be your only way to express your frustration of being unable to do simple, familiar things.
    • Mood swings: You can go from being happy to being sad or angry without warning. Family members will need to be understanding and patient. Mood swings may improve as you go through recovery.
    • Self-centeredness: You may be focused on your needs and not be paying attention to your caregiver or family.
  • Source: Allina Patient Education, Understanding Stroke: Information about Stroke and Recovery, fourth edition, ISBN 1-931876-13-4
    Reviewed by: Allina Patient Education experts
    First published: 02/01/2006
    Last reviewed: 12/09/2011