Recovering from stroke appears as an uphill task for some patients. A recent study suggests that people experiencing a stroke are more likely to be dependent if they are depressed, older or have other medical problems. It was mentioned that even the treatment and improvement of post-stroke depression may fail to directly influence recovery.

During the study, data from 367 ischemic stroke survivors with an average age of 62 was accumulated. None of the volunteers had any severe language or thinking skill impairments. A total of 174 cases were of post-stroke depression one month after the stroke. Level of independence was rated by means of a zero to five scale, with five being the most severely disabled and dependent. On completion of three months, 20 percent of the participants reportedly were dependent and scored a level three or higher.

“Post-stroke depression is a common problem. About 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year and one third of survivors develop depression as a result,” remarked study author Arlene Schmid, PhD, OTR, with the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Indiana University in Indianapolis. “We wanted to see whether depression and other factors affected function and dependence after a stroke.”

It was pointed out that stroke survivors with depression had higher chances of being dependent if they were older, had other coinciding health problems or were severely depressed than those who were younger, free of other health problems or not depressed. Experts did not ascertain if improvement in depression enabled people to recover their independence after three months.

The study was published in the March 15, 2011, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.