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Studies Show That Antidepressants May Help Stroke Patients

Antidepressants have been known to vastly improve depressive states and assist in coping with many disorders and mental illnesses, but recent studies have shown that they may have an alternative use as well. Antidepressants have been shown to have a positive effect on patients who have suffered from stroke.

Strokes of the ischemic nature occur when a blood clot keeps blood from flowing properly to the brain. Similarly, the hemorrhagic version, occur when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a burst blood vessel. This tends to cause impairments of the brain such as vision loss, memory loss, and paralysis. Serious stroke symptoms also include death. Medical News Today reports: “In the US, stroke is the fifth major cause of death and the leading cause of disability. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. Brain cells die in the part of the brain that is cut off from the blood and oxygen supply.”

Treatment options for stroke rehabilitation are minimal, but the medical community is constantly seeking new ways to assist patients in achieving as much normalcy as possible following a stroke. Recent research has lead them to believe that antidepressant medications may help improve the lift of patients following a stroke, both mentally and physically.

Therapy Research

Although rehabilitation has been an ongoing research effort, there has been a more recent rise in interest in this area of medicine, probing professionals to determine that there are a few treatments which can help boost patient morale and neurological recovery as well. The concept for the use of antidepressants with stroke patients followed success found through the use of these drugs with Alzheimer’s patients. The drugs were shown to increase the recovery of motor skills and reverse signs of aphasia. Aphasia is when the written and spoken language becomes jumbled and lost to some patients suffering from dementia. It can make it difficult for patients to read, write, and even speak.

Determining Which Medication Is Best

There is a large variety of antidepressant medications which medical professionals use to treat stroke now, but the most common and successfully used drug so far as a generic brand of Prozac, which has shown a number of benefits. This is a serotonin inhibitor, which is known to enhance the mood and emotional feelings of patients, but has also shown success in the field of neurological recovery. Paxil, Celexa, and Prozac are some of the more common brand names of these drugs. Other types which are used are called Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, which have offered some success here as well in medical studies. One such study reported on by Web MD described the following results: “On average, after 90 days, patients in the Prozac group had improved 34 points on a 100-point stroke symptom scale. Patients in the placebo group, on the other hand, saw a 24-point improvement. The improvement remained even when researchers adjusted the study results to exclude patients who’d developed depression.”

The use of this medication has increased many patient’s abilities to heal following a stroke, in terms of both physical and emotional wellness. Many stroke patients suffer from depression following the loss of speech and the formation of paralysation in certain areas of the body. The medication also helps increase the mental health of those who are suffering from these physical symptoms, which offers added benefit to the use of such treatments.

Healing After A Stroke

For some patients, the reappearance of certain motor functions and mental capabilities will return slowly but surely on their own, for others this isn’t the case. Some paralysis and other symptoms can appear permanent, even with alternative treatments which have been used in the past. This is another reason why finding these positive reactions in antidepressants is such an important breakthrough. The Stroke Foundation states: “Stroke patients given the antidepressant fluoxetine (best known by the brand name of Prozac) appear to regain more muscle function than other recovering stroke sufferers, French researchers have found. Not surprisingly, patients on the generic Prozac were also less susceptible to depression after their stroke, the study found.”

Other types of rehabilitation include physical therapy and one on one work with a professional who assists in the rebuilding of mental skills. Fortunately the use of antidepressants in stroke victims has proven to increase many of the physical issues related to stroke quickly. The regaining of muscle functionality and strength has seen drastic improvement in many studies over the recent years.

Different types of antidepressants will offer different results for individual patients, and just as choosing a medication of this type will differ for mental health, it will also require varying dosage from person to person in the treatment of physical stroke symptoms as well. Working with your physician over time can help you to find the best medication for your particular symptoms, and increase your chances of rehabilitation at a faster pace.

The use of antidepressants isn’t feasible for every patient, and your medical history will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for the treatment. When utilizing new treatments of this type, your doctor may have alternative views on what will work best for you. Keep an open mind, and be patient as the process to recovery following a stroke can be a long and winding road. Fortunately, there is hope for normalcy following a stroke.

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