Stroke Patients Experience Better Depression Recovery When Given Psychosocial Therapy

Recovering from a stroke can be a tumultuous time for anyone, especially if recovery includes extensive therapy or even permanent damage. Now, a new study demonstrates the value delivered in psychological therapy combined with medication.

According to a Science Daily report, adding psychosocial therapy improved depression scores short term. In addition, these improvements were sustained long term. At the one year stage, depression scores dropped 47 percent in patients receiving eight weeks of psychological/behavioral therapy and antidepressants. At the same time, scores dropped 32 percent for those receiving the usual care, such as taking antidepressants.

Researchers highlighted that these results were clinically and statistically significant. Patients with improved depression reported recovery that was significantly greater and also felt their physical condition and social participation were better than those with lesser improvement in depression.

“Depression following stroke is an important public health problem,” said Richard C. Veith, M.D., co-author of the study and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, in the Science Daily.

“One-third of patients who have strokes develop clinical depression, which makes them less able to recover from the stroke, worsens cognitive functioning, impairs social functioning and is associated with other adverse consequences.”

The start of the study, researchers identified all patients as having moderately severe depression ratings on a standard rating scale called the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. The average score for both groups was about 20, while a score of nine or below is considered desirable.

At the nine week point, the psychosocial/behavioral treatment group had a reduced depression score of 10, a highly significant improvement. This improvement was nearly twice as effective as the rating in the usual care group.

There is still hope.

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