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High rates of depression among stroke survivors over long periods: Study

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HQ Team

April 17, 2024: A recent study published in The Lancet Regional Health: Europe has found that nearly 60 percent of stroke survivors suffer from long-term depression after the event. This is a much higher estimation than previous studies, which have pegged the rate of depression at 22%, seen across the general population over the same timeframe.

The study examined 3,864 patients from the South London Stroke Register spanning from 1995 to 2019. They performed an updated review and pooled meta-analysis of depression after stroke including 79 studies. The population included in the study was 55.4% male, with a median age of 68 years. Some 62.5% of the population was from a white ethnic background, while 29.7% was from a Black ethnic background.

The researchers found that the prevalence of poststroke depression by clinical interview was about 24%, which was slightly lower than that by rating scales (29%). Also, depression tends to occur within 3 months after stroke and has a high risk of becoming persistent.


The analysis found the prevalence of post-stroke depression (PSD) ranged from 31.3% to 41.5%, indicating a significant burden of depression among stroke survivors. Moreover, the cumulative incidence of depression was found to be a staggering 59.4%, with the majority of cases (87.9%) occurring within five years after the stroke event.

The study found that among patients with incident PSD within three months after stroke, only 46.6% recovered after one year. However, among those who did recover, two-thirds experienced recurrent depression, with a striking 94.4% of recurrences occurring within five years since recovery.

Interestingly, the study also compared early-onset depression (within three months after stroke) with late-onset depression (one year after stroke), finding similar natural histories for both types. However, severe depression was associated with a longer duration and quicker recurrence compared to mild depression, highlighting the need for tailored interventions based on depression severity.

Clinical attention for depression

Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Lu Liu emphasized the importance of clinical attention for stroke survivors experiencing persistent depression. “Quality of life is important for stroke survivors, as there is evidence depressed survivors have a reduced survival rate,” said Lu Liu . “There are many reasons why this could be, including disruptions to the survivor’s social life, reduced physical ability and inflammatory disorders observed in depressed patients. More clinical attention should be paid to patients with depression that is longer than one year because of the high risks of experiencing persistent depression,” Liu stated.”

The study’s insights into the long-term impact of depression on stroke survivors underscore the critical need for enhanced mental health support and interventions. By addressing the long-term impact of depression on stroke survivors, healthcare providers can improve outcomes and quality of life for this vulnerable population.





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