Emotional changes after stroke are triggered by two factors: changes in your brain and changes in lifestyle.
Because the onset of these new emotions can come rapidly, stroke patients may feel confused or overwhelmed by them. And that’s okay.
In this article, you’ll learn how to navigate emotional changes after stroke.
Emotional Changes After Stroke
Stroke patients experience many different emotions after stroke.
Here are the 5 most common emotional changes that occur after stroke:
1. Emotional Lability / Pseudobulbar Affect
Emotional lability is a post-stroke condition that causes uncontrollable emotions. Often, patients with emotional lability find themselves laughing one minute and crying the next.
This condition is also known as pseudobulbar affect, and it occurs when there is damage to the emotion center of the brain (i.e. a right side stroke).
Your emotional control can become impaired when the areas of the brain responsible for emotions are damaged by stroke.
Sometimes this condition often goes away on its own (“spontaneous recovery”). Other times treatment for pseudobulbar affect is required.
2. Post Stroke Depression
Post stroke depression affects one third of all stroke survivors.
If you feel like you suffer from post stroke depression – you’re not alone. Some symptoms of post stroke depression are:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Frequent crying episodes
- Increased agitation
These symptoms can hinder your stroke recovery and make you feel lousy – so properly treating post stroke depression is essential.
Anger after stroke is another emotional change that patients may experience.
Often, anger is a phase that’s part of the stages of grief after stroke. When anger is caused by grief, the only way out is through. The phase will pass.
When anger is caused by damage to the emotion center of the brain, a structured approach to treatment is a good idea.
Interventions like medication and psychotherapy can help stroke patients cope with tough emotions like anger.
4. Personality Changes
Which comes first: emotional changes or personality changes after stroke?
Since personality is a person’s unique combination of thoughts, emotions, and behavior, we think that emotional changes come first.
However, it’s possible that lifestyle changes after stroke can affect someone’s personality, which then impact their emotions.
So when analyzing the cause of emotional changes after stroke, considering personality changes is important.
5. Behavior Changes
Strange behavior after stroke can be the cause or result of emotional changes.
- New mental conditions like dementia after stroke can affect a patient’s thought patterns, which then affect their emotion and behavior.
- On the other hand, the demanding process of stroke recovery itself can cause symptoms like forgetfulness, neglectfulness, and anxiety.
Caregivers should be aware that the brain is working very hard to heal itself after stroke, and this can cause strange behavior.
As long as the behavior is not self-destructive or harmful to others, try to exercise compassion for your loved one. But when behavior changes become destructive, medical and psychiatric intervention is needed.
Coping with Emotional Changes After Stroke
Overall, the emotional changes after stroke often stem from changes in the brain and the draining process of recovery.
It’s important that friends and family exercise understanding and compassion for their loved one. Emotional changes often go away on their own.
If situations become hazardous to the emotional or physical health of the patient or family, medical and/or psychiatric intervention should be sought.
We hope this article helped you understand the most common emotional changes after stroke!