Understanding and Working Through the Many Faces of Post Stroke Depression

Understanding and Working Through the Many Faces of Post Stroke Depression

These 10 causes of post stroke depression address the underlying issues that are often overlooked.

Please note that post stroke depression is a side effect that should be taken very seriously and not pawned off as something that’ll pass with time. Doing something about it now can help boost your health, happiness, and recovery for the long run.

Foreword: Depression from Brain Injury

If your stroke has damaged the part of your brain responsible for emotion, then it can cause post stroke depression.

This type of depression can be treated in two ways: your doctor can prescribe medication or recommend therapy, or you can adjust your lifestyle to naturally combat depression.

Sometimes medication and therapy are exactly what you need. Other times simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference.

Sift through these lifestyle problems that can cause post stroke depression and start making small changes.

They could have a marvelous ripple effect on your overall happiness.

1. Depression from Lack of Social Support

Keeping friends and family close during stroke recovery is essential.

The simple hug from a friend or loved one triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which is responsible for feeling good!

We also need social support so that we feel heard. When we feel like someone understands us and understands the pain we’re going through, it makes it much easier to deal with. The process of talking about your feelings within itself can be transformational.

If your friends and family members have trouble relating to you, try finding stroke support groups in your area.

You can also try looking for support groups on Facebook where stroke survivors post about their experience and provide emotional support.

2. Depression from Bad Posture

Posture is weirdly important.

As Amy Cuddy explains in this revolutionary TedTalk, our posture radically affects who we are. And there are certain poses that can affect your state of being for the better.

Amy calls it ‘Power Posing.’ All you need to do is sit or stand up straight and raise your arms up and out to your sides. Make yourself as big as possible, and it will change your body chemistry.

In Amy’s study, participants who used Power Posing experienced more presence, confidence, and comfortability in their body – just from changing their posture.

When we make ourselves small, we feel small. And when we make ourselves big, we feel strong and capable.

Try it for yourself right now and see if you can feel the difference.

(If mobility issues make Power Posing a problem, check out these arm exercises and core/balance exercises.)

3. Depression from Loss of Control

When a huge chunk of control is taken away from us, it negatively affects our psychology.

After a stroke, it’s likely that you’re dealing with physical, mental, and emotional changes, and many of these changes are out of your control.

For example, if stroke hindered your ability to move, then you might feel like you’ve lost control of your body. If stroke has impacted the way you execute the Activities of Daily Living, then you might feel like you’ve lost control of your independence.

There’s a way to restore your sense of control, and it starts by changing your mindset.

When we focus on our problems, they become bigger problems. But when we shift our attention away from our problems, then the present moment becomes available to us. When we can live in the moment without worrying about the future or mulling over the past – we can just let ourselves be.

And there’s immense freedom in that.

When you turn inward and meet your anger and frustration with presence, you can overcome depression associated with loss of control – because you are in total control of this present moment.

It’s a powerful realization, and it could change the way you feel on the drop of a dime.

This attention shift and profound awareness is very similar to meditation.

4. Depression from Not Meditating

Stroke survivors have been talking about the importance of meditation for a while now.

Meditation should be a part of every single stroke rehabilitation regimen because it helps reduce depression, grow your brain, develop emotional strength, and reduce stress.

Yes, all that just from meditating.

Upon learning how good meditation is for your stroke recovery, you might make up your mind to meditate every morning (and you should!). But actually getting around to it is a whole other story.

A simple way to get yourself to meditate is to schedule it into your day and be disciplined about it. Then it will become a habit and you won’t have to exert as much willpower to get yourself to do it anymore.

Also, if you feel frustrated or impatient with your meditation practice, rest assured that it will get easier with time. Your brain adapts to whatever you focus on; so if you’re focusing on meditation every day, your brain will get better at meditation every day.

Meditation is one of those things you have to do if you want to get better.

Take it from a fellow stroke survivor.

Continue to Part 2