Depression is more prevalent among stroke and transient ischemic attack survivors than in the general population, researchers reported in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.
While most patients with stroke in the study had only mild disability and only a fraction of those with TIAs had severe disability, depression rates were similar.
"The similar rates of depression following stroke and TIA could be due to similarities in the rates of other medical conditions or to the direct effects of brain injury on the risk of depression, but more studies are needed," said Dr. Nada El Husseini, an author of the study and a Stroke Fellow in the Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
Researchers, analyzing 1,450 adults with ischemic stroke (blockage of a blood vessel in the brain) and 397 with TIA, found:
"Patients need to be open about their symptoms of depression and discuss them with their physicians so that they can work together to improve outcomes," El Husseini said. "It is important for physicians to screen for depression on follow-up after both stroke and TIA."
Researchers defined depression using the Patient Health Questionnaire-8, which covers a range of depressive symptoms. Patients with stroke, who had persistent depression, tended to be younger, have greater stroke-related disability and couldn't work at three months follow-up.
"Physicians may need to be more vigilant in screening these patients because of their higher risk for long-term and persistent depression," El Husseini said.