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The Importance of Recognising Depression Following a Stroke
  1. Helen Brewerton, Clinical Nurse Specialist
  1. King’s College Hospital Palliative Care Team, King’s College Hospital, London. Email: helenbrewerton{at}


Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the UK and the single most common cause of disability. Depression following a stroke occurs in approximately one-third of stroke sufferers. It is a distressing symptom and has been found to have a significant effect on post-stroke morbidity and mortality. Various opinions exist regarding the causes of post-stroke depression (PSD), i.e. that it is a biological mechanism relating to the location of the brain lesion and other inflammatory responses directly related to stroke, or a psychosocial mechanism, influenced by personality, past psychiatric history and functional status. PSD is poorly recognised and consequently undertreated. Improved understanding of the importance of PSD and timely screening and treatment may lead to lessening of morbidity, better quality of life and reduced mortality. This article provides an overview of PSD, examining possible causes. It highlights the clinical significance and effects of PSD. Its aim is to inform nurses of the impact of PSD and the indicators suggestive of patients at risk of depression following a stroke or who are actually depressed. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Depression
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality
  • Nurse assessment
  • Stroke

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