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Women at Greater Risk of Depression after Stroke

Depression is a common side effect for a person who has suffered a stroke. In fact, it happens in as many as one-third of patients. According to a large new review of studies in the field, post-stroke depression is associated with greater disability, a reduced quality of life and an increased risk of death.

This study review was examined in a recent Science Daily post. The review was led by Brittany Poynter, M.D. and colleagues from the University of Toronto and looked at 56 studies on stroke and depression that made up of more than 75,000 people, roughly 12,000 of them women.

For women, the rates of post-stroke depression ranged from roughly 6 percent to 78 percent. At the same time, men in states of depression ranged from 4.7 percent to about 65 percent.

According to Poynter, these findings are important as women who have suffered from a stroke generally do more poorly than men. Women tend to have higher rates of disability and longer hospitalization.

“People think of stroke as a ‘male’ disease — and it is slightly more common in men — but because it increases with age, more women end up having strokes because they live longer,” said Linda S. Williams, M.D., chief of neurology at the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. She is not associated with the review.

“Post-stroke depression is often unrecognized, both by the patient and the provider,” Williams said. “Patients may have symptoms, but they think that’s a natural reaction to having a stroke. Providers may think it is natural that the patient feels down after having this major life event. So there is a watch-and-see approach instead of a more of an aggressive screening-and-treatment approach.”

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