This is part 2 of our Understanding Post Stroke Depression article.
5. Depression from Poor Nutrition
A common culprit of post stroke depression is an unhealthy microbiome, which is the ecosystem of 100 trillion little microbes in your gut.
When you gut is healthy, it fosters a healthy brain and healthy emotions. When your gut is unhealthy, it can lead to depression and brain fog.
To maintain a healthy microbiome, you need to have probiotics in your diet. You can find probiotics in fermented foods yogurt, tempeh, keifer, and sauerkraut.
If your microbiome was the cause of your depression, you’ll start to feel better almost immediately upon healing your gut with probiotics.
6. Depression from Lack of Fun
Fun is important. It’s what keeps us happy, connected, and fulfilled.
Sometimes a stroke hinders your ability to participate in activities and hobbies you once enjoyed. If that’s the case, it’s time to find something new.
Stroke recovery is an opportunity to discover something new about yourself – and a new hobby is a great place to start. (Recreational therapy is an even better place to start.)
Whatever your passion is, try to find a creative way of fitting it into your life.
7. Depression from Lack of Movement
If the limitations of your recovery have compromised your sense of personal freedom, there’s a way to reclaim it.
No matter how well you can move, you can move a little – and that’s all you need to help alleviate your depression. Try activities like water aerobics or Dance Movement Therapy (don’t worry, you don’t actually have to know how to dance). They’re gentle forms of movement that help liberate you from feelings of restriction.
If you’re living with hemiplegia, there’s one form of movement that you can always come back to: your breath. Whenever you’re feeling trapped or limited, just breathe.
Pull yourself into the moment and try not to judge, label, or change anything about yourself or your situation. Simply breathe and let yourself be.
There is immense freedom in this state of being.
8. Depression from Lack of Presence
We’ve been talking about the power of presence and mindfulness a lot in this post, but it’s a scientifically-proven way to be happier.
Living in the present moment is one of the most effective ways to reduce depression and boost happiness because your depression exists in dwelling on the past or worry about the future; depression exists in thoughts and labels.
When you remove those thoughts and labels, you’re free.
It doesn’t come all at once, but if meditation and living a mindful life can get you there. This will train your brain to live more in the present moment and stop thinking depressive thoughts.
It’s all made possible by the power of neuroplasticity.
The more you focus on something – like the enjoying present moment – the better your brain becomes at that task. So if you continuously practice patience, acceptance, and peace, then you’ll naturally become skillful at being patient, tolerant, and peaceful.
Whatever you focus on, you become.
9. Depression from a Fixed Mindset
Do you feel like you’re stuck in your recovery?
If so, you probably have a fixed mindset that’s feeding you limiting thoughts and fostering this feeling of stuck-ness. To succeed in your recovery and avoid depressive thoughts, you need to develop a growth mindset.
Someone with a growth mindset believes in their potential. They believe that there’s always room for growth and they put effort into turning their weaknesses into strengths.
You can develop a growth mindset by replacing negative, limiting thoughts with positive, empowering ones. The switches start consciously and purposefully – maybe for a designated 15 minutes every day – but eventually it will become a habit.
And once you’ve developed a habit of thinking positively, even your subconscious thoughts will be positive.
It’s how the brain works, and it’s how you can set yourself up for a successful recovery.
10. Depression from Low Self-Esteem
The losses associated with stroke can take a devastating toll on your self-image and self-esteem.
Self-esteem is knowing that you are worthy of happiness.
Knowing it is one thing. Working towards feeling it is the next step.
To improve your self-esteem, you don’t have to wait until you’ve gotten ‘back to normal.’ You can find happiness and confidence right now; it just requires some personal development.
Whatever resonates with you, do that and do it often.
Because we are what we repeatedly do, and if you can rewire your brain for happiness, then post stroke depression will begin to subside.
It just requires time, effort, and support from loved ones.