Depression and Stroke

If you follow the medical news, especially Medscape, then you probably already know that a recent review article showed an association (not necessarily a causal relationship) between depression and stroke risk. The increased risk of stroke associated with depression was seen in both men and women, and data suggested it might be independent of other risk factors for stroke (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes).

This news may be enough to make some of us depressed.

However, there is no reason to think that every person with depression is in danger of having a stroke tomorrow, or that it is impossible to change the level of risk. Most of us know that diet, exercise, and control of other medical conditions such as high cholesterol can decrease stroke risk. Depression may be associated with stroke through one or more of these factors. After all, who feels like eating healthy and exercising during an episode of depression? I know I don’t. If I could somehow motivate myself to take care of my body even during depression, it would probably improve my mood as well as reducing my stroke risk.

I must add a caveat here: the review did not state explicitly whether the patients had unipolar depression, bipolar depression, or either one. This could make a huge difference since bipolar depression has a number of unique characteristics and responds to typical medications in different ways.

Further reading:
Additional information about stroke

The FAST acronym for detecting a possible stroke

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