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Post Stroke Depression

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    • Joyce Hoffman

      The first year of my stroke in 2009, I was depressed, so much so that I was embarrassed to go outside and socialize. I thought everyone was staring at me when, the fact I learned much later, most people stare at everybody all the time. I wanted to commit suicide because I thought my life was over. But I didn’t and it wasn’t. Little did I know at first that there was a life out there beyond the stroke. Depression took me, albeit 8 years later, to a different, less stressful, more peaceful place.


      According to WebMD (that glosses over topics for the average reader, just enough to know whether you should go see someone right away), there are 9 types of depression. If you suspect depression in yourself or a loved one, even close friends, get help or advise help. There’s no need to suffer.

      Major Depression

      Major Depressive Disorder comes about if you feel depressed most of the time for most days of the week.
      Some of symptoms you might have are:
      • No interest or pleasure in the activities you liked to do before
      • Weight gain or loss if it wasn’t intentional
      • Difficulty with sleep–getting to sleep or daytime sleepiness
      • Physical or mental restlessness or agitation
      • Tired with no energy
      • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
      • Trouble making decisions or concentrating
      • Thoughts of suicide
      Your doctor might take your symptoms and diagnose you with you with Major Depressive Disorder if you have five or more of these symptoms on most days for 2 weeks or longer. WebMD says that at least one of the symptoms must be a loss of interest in activities or a depressed feeling or state of mind.
      Talk therapy where you meet with a mental health specialist may help you find ways to manage your depression, including antidepressants.
      If therapy and medication don’t help, there are other options. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) with electrical impulses to your brain and Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) which uses magnets to stimulate certain areas of brain activity.

      Persistent Depressive Disorder

      If you have depression that lasts for 2 years or longer, this is known as Persistent Depressive Disorder, and once called Dysthymia or Chronic Major Depression.
      Symptoms include:
      • Overeating or eating too little
      • Changes in sleep patterns
      • Significant fatigue or loss of energy
      • Poor self-esteem
      • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
      • Feeling hopelessness
      Talk therapy and various medications may get you out of that disorder, but don’t be surprised if it’s trial and error to start.

      Bipolar Disorder

      Bipolar Disorder, sometimes called Manic Depression, has someone with mood episodes be saddled with extraordinary high energy in addition to low depressive periods.

      If you’re in the low period, you’ll have the symptoms of major depression. Again, talk therapy may help.
      Medication can help bring your mood swings under control whether you’re in a high or low period.

      Seasonal Affective Disorder

      Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a period of major depression, usually occurs during the winter months, short days with less sunlight. If you have SAD, antidepressants can help, but a bright light box for about 15-30 minutes each day may help instead. They’re available on Amazon by typing in “bright light for SAD” in the Search box.</section>

      Psychotic Depression

      Psychotic Depression have the symptoms of Major Depression along with psychotic symptoms which include hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia.
      Antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs can treat psychotic depression, with an option of ECT.

      Postpartum Depression

      Women who have major depression after childbirth may have Postpartum Depression. Antidepressant drugs can help, similar to treating major depression that has no childbirth.

      Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

      Women with PMDD have depression and other symptoms when their periods start.
      You may also have:
      • Mood swings
      • Irritability
      • Anxiety
      • Trouble concentrating
      • Fatigue
      • Change in appetite or sleep habits
      • Feelings of being overwhelmed
      Antidepressant medication can possibly treat PMDD.

      Situational Depression

      Also called Stress Response Syndrome, Situational Depression, which isn’t a technical term in psychiatry, happens during a divorce, from loss of employment, a death in your family, or similar catastrophic events.
      Talk therapy is the best option.
      Atypical Depression

      If you have Atypical Depression, a positive event can often improve your mood, albeit for an unspecified time.
      Other symptoms include:
      • Increased appetite
      • Sleeping more than usual
      • Feeling of heaviness in your arms and legs
      • Oversensitive to criticism
      Your doctor may suggest a type called an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) as the first step.

      The National Institutes of Health reports:

      • An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults.
      • The prevalence of major depressive episode was higher among adult females (8.7%) compared to males (5.3%).
      • The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (13.1%).
      So with the high number of depressive disorders in the US, not counting around the world, I think it is important to give Psysh Central’s take on the worst things to say to someone who’s depressed when they trivialize depression. Here goes my 10 un-favorites:
      1.  “You just need to give yourself a kick in the rear.”
      2.  “It’s all in your head.”
      3.  “I thought you were stronger than that.”
      4.  “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
      5.  “No one ever said life was fair.”
      6.  “Why don’t you just grow up?”
      7.  “There are a lot of people worse off than you.”
      8.  “You think you’ve got problems…”
      9.  “Everybody has a bad day now and then.”
      10.  And my all-time un-favorite:  “Just don’t think about it.”
      Yes, good intentions, but stupidity also.
      If you have a depressive disorder, here is my best line to reply:
      “Shut the frig up!” (Please. You can substitute “frig” for a more suitable word. You have my blessing).


      • This topic was modified 10 months, 2 weeks ago by  Daniel Gu.
    • Clem suder

      Dear Joyce, i would stare at you all the time too, you know I am a sucker for that librarian look, thanks for all you do and the people you help. Our meetings help me deal with depression because I get to see you. And the social contact is an enjoyment , again thanks

      Sent from my iPad


      Joyce your post is so spot on!!!!. I also felt suicidal for some levity I will share some thoughts I had , I thought I’d just let myself fall in my pool and be done BUT NO that was too cold 🙂 . Then I thought while being a passenger on the freeway I’ll just open the door and fall out. BUT NO Later I learned vehicles have a safety that will not allow doors to open while the vehicle is moving   🙂

      So I started to come to terms with the fact I’m supposed to be here, then I started asking God Why what is my purpose? During all of this as I have previously stated I could not find a therapist who understood Stroke PTSD  existed.  I prayed a lot. I also cried a lot. The stroke support group helped more than any professionals.

      Again Thank you Joyce for your wisdom . I’m hoping a survivor who is trying to navigate through the recovery maze is able to find your post.

      blessings to all

      • Joyce Hoffman

        Thanks, Naomi, for your thoughtful words! Everybody who has a stroke has
        PTSD, in my opinion.

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