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Depression Years Before a Stroke May Be a Sign It Is About to Occur, Study Finds

Some people who have a stroke may have increased symptoms of depression in the years leading up to it, new research suggests.

According to research, minor increases in depressed symptoms may be a warning indicator that a stroke is likely to happen.

Although depression is a typical concern for those who have previously experienced a stroke, the study reveals it is also a pre-stroke phenomena.

Maria Blochl, a researcher from Germany’s University of Münster, said:

But our study found depressive symptoms not only markedly increase after stroke, it found people already had developed some depressive symptoms before the stroke even occurred.

10,797 adults with an average age of 65 and no prior history of stroke were examined by researchers.

425 persons experienced a stroke throughout the up to 12-year period when they were monitored.

They were paired with 4,249 individuals who had not experienced a stroke.

Every two years, participants were questioned about if they had recently felt melancholy, lonely, unhappy, that everything was a struggle, or had trouble sleeping—all indicators of depression.

Their score increased as they had more symptoms.

According to the study, those who went on to have a stroke and those who did not had identical scores six years before to the stroke.

However, the number of stroke victims began to rise roughly two years before to the stroke.

Following a stroke, depressive symptoms got worse and lasted for ten years.

In contrast, the scores of people who did not have a stroke remained roughly the same throughout the study.

According to the study, compared to 24% of those who did not have a stroke, 29% of those who were likely to have one met the criteria for having probable depression at the assessment before the stroke.

However, 34% of the individuals fulfilled the criteria for probable depression at the time of the stroke, compared to 24% of those who did not have a stroke.

Ms Blochl said that this suggests that increasing symptoms of depression before stroke are mostly subtle changes and may not always be clinically detectable. But even slight increases in depressive symptoms, especially mood and fatigue-related symptoms, may be a signal a stroke that is about to occur. She added that whether these pre-stroke changes can be used to predict who will have a stroke is unclear. Exactly why depressive symptoms occur pre-stroke needs to be investigated in future research. Also, the study underscores why doctors need to monitor for symptoms of depression long term in people who have had strokes.

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