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WI Expert: Post-stroke Depression Often Goes Undiagnosed

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Monday, May 14, 2012   

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - In addition to being the number-four killer of Americans, stroke is also one of the leading causes of long-term disability. The American Stroke Association says post-stroke depression, which affects up to half of stroke survivors, can significantly affect recovery.

Dawn Shelton-Williams, a licensed clinical social worker and manager of community-based services, Aurora Family Services, Milwaukee, warns that post-stroke depression can have a big impact on a stroke survivor's recovery but often is not diagnosed right away.

"A lot of times, stroke survivors and their caregivers see some of the symptoms and signs as maybe being related to the actual medical disease of the stroke."

Stroke survivors dealing with undiagnosed depression are affected in both physical and mental recovery, she adds.

"By the person not fully participating in the process, becoming more non-compliant with the treatment plan that has been developed, it impacts the survivor's motivation and energy level."

According to the American Stroke Association, caregivers of stroke survivors must also care for themselves, and it is important for them to keep balance in their lives by eating right and getting exercise.

Shelton-Williams says some grieving by stroke survivors is to be expected, such as in the case of a frequent runner who survives a stroke but is physically disabled and cannot run.

"It's important to realize that the grieving is normal, but it's a short period of time. It should not be lasting for an extremely long period of time."

She also points out there are support groups for stroke survivors and their caretakers to help them deal with frustration, anger, anxiety about finances and other issues.

During May, American Stroke Month, the association is raising awareness about stroke, which happens once every 40 seconds. Information about the signs of stroke is available at www.strokeassociation.org.



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