Post-stroke depression is a major issue affecting approximately 33% of stroke survivors. A new study published in the current issue of Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation reports that the level to which survivors are uncertain about the outcome of their illness is strongly linked to depression. The relationship is more pronounced for men than for women.
"Male stroke survivors in the US who subscribe to traditional health-related beliefs may be accustomed to, and value highly, being in control of their health," says lead investigator Michael J. McCarthy, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati College of Health Sciences School of Social Work. "For these individuals, loss of control due to infirmity caused by stroke could be perceived as a loss of power and prestige. These losses, in turn, may result in more distress and greater depressive syndromes."
Thirty-six survivors (16 female, 20 male) who had experienced their first stroke within the preceding 36 months participated in the study. Survivors' depressive symptoms and ability to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing and cutting food with a knife and fork, were measured. The degree to which survivors were experiencing health ambiguity, or uncertainty about the outcomes of their illness, was evaluated by their agreement with statements such as "I don't know what's wrong with me," and "I have a lot of questions without answers."