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Some stroke survivors may experience emotional lability, exhibiting behaviors that don't fit a person's mood or that may be inappropriate at the given time, such as laughing or crying.

It is also common to experience sensory deprivation, due to prolonged confinement to a bed. The loss of sensory stimulation and human interaction can contribute to behavioral changes such as irritability, confusion and even delusions.

Post-Stroke Depression (PSD) is common after a stroke and often goes undiagnosed. Many times symptoms of depression may be seen within six months of the stroke; however, PSD can take up to two years to develop. Proper diagnosis and treatment of PSD can benefit stroke survivors by improving quality of life, health and motivation for rehabilitation.

Some common characteristics of depression include:

  • A persistent low or sad mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism, such as being unable to see themselves making any progress
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed
  • Lack of interest in self or others
  • Avoiding going out
  • Fatigue, or decreased energy, in excess of what can be expected after stroke
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Changes in sleep pattern with no obvious cause
  • Appetite and/or weight changes with no obvious cause
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Restlessness, irritability, angry outburst, or exaggerated sense of frustration
  • Chronic aches and pains that do not improve with treatment
  • Sudden outburst of tears or crying