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Craig Mattice

What didn't they tell me about psychological effects of stroke?

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I was having a discussion with a new friend on mine who lives in New Zealand, who suffered a severe brain hemorrhage, and how brain strokes affect you mentally. Is it just me or did anyone else not get any education about your mental and psychological challenges resulting post stroke?

 

I've been dealing with a great deal of stress in handling the care of my elderly parent's mental and physical challenges getting them from the hospital to the rehab center to an assisted living community. This on top or working on my recovery from a near fatal brain stem stroke in mid December of last year.

 

This situation has totally destroyed my circadian rhythm and I now suffer from insomnia and sleep deprivation. I may get two to three hours of sleep then up at 1 or 2am, awake for many hours, crash for 3 to 4 hours hard and it starts all over again. I'm taking an over the counter patented nonpharmaceutical sleep aid strip and the effects don't really last that long.

 

I'm hoping, now that my parents are officially in a very nice professional assisted living community, the stress will abate and I will get back into my rhythm.

 

What were you told about post stroke psych and mental challenges to expect? I'm in the dark on this one.

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Hi! I'm so sorry to hear about your stroke, the stress handling your parents and from your own stroke.

Initially, I was handed a booklet from the hospital where my husband was being treated from a stroke, and the booklet mentioned both stress/depression on the stroke victim and the care-giver as well. I also talked to my mother, who works with elderly care, and she mentioned the initial clinic depression stroke patients usually get, where you have uncontrollable cries and laughts for no reason. My husband experienced these about 2 weeks from being released from the hospital - so I was already prepared and knew what was happening. The brain during healing is having problems controlling the emotions.

Having a stroke is a life changing experience, and dealing with the worry about it happening again, home situations that might have changed etc can cause anyone to feel stressed and down.

I'm sorry they did not offer you phycological help right after the stroke, but I think you should ask your doctor about your concerns. We have also been told that irregular sleep such as sleep apnia can cause strokes; my husband is going to take a sleep test in a month or so to make sure that was not part of the cause for his - I'm not sure about sleep insomnia (which my husband suffered from for years before the stroke) but I wouldn't take it litely. You want to make sure you stay as healty as you can as a prevention. Talk to your doctor about your issues and ask if they would recommend phycological help as well as some assistance with your insomnia.

Good Luck!

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Hi Craig, I wasn't told much about mental or emotional problems. My Dr did have me come in often for check ups, etc. I'm not sure the first few weeks, that would have even "sunk" in. I was adjusting to the word "stroke" and it took awhile for to even believe my body was not listening to my brain. My beginning focus was physical recovery. I think sometimes. it is really not known what will be affected, what will come back.. and "how we will react emotionally".. From what I see many times on the board ... many of the Dr's give the worst case scenario.. some kind of.. well we will have to wait and see. Dr's are larning about our brains more.. but each stroke can really affect each person a bit differently.. we are unique.. and how we react and recover can't really be known.

 

Dr did talk to me and put me on an antii-depressant, it is used in diabetics for neuropathy , I also had nerve pain, and the sleeping 2 hours.. waking up. This medication does help get your body back into sleep rythm. Not everyone can take the same meds, and sometmes it takes 3 weeks for it to reach a therpeutic level. The name of the medication is Cymbalta. you may want to talk to your Dr, or do some reasearch on line. I know there are several natural sleep aids, I would talk to the Dr and pharmacist to make sure if you are on prescriptions, that any over the counter or herb, does not have a reaction with your regular meds.

 

I hope you feelcmfortable speaking with your Dr.. or find one you are comfortable with. I worked in the medical field .... and had the knowledge of who was a good Dr and that I got on well with, so I have had him for several yrs before the CVA

 

You have extra stress with parents and dealing with your stroke. Please talk to the Dr and let him/her know your stress and your concerns.

 

Bonnie

 

 

 

 

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I've been weening off psych meds over the last 8 months and am down to 20mg of Paxil a day. I don't feel depressed at all and believe I'm really enjoying life and all it has to offer even under the current circumstances. I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea for about two years now and religiously use a CPAP machine every time I sleep or nap. I just love the quality of sleep it brings to me.

 

I will follow up with my PCP about this sleeping challenge. He is an excellent physician and both my wife and I see him. He is the best personal doctor I've ever had and I've had some great docs in my time. I too have medical experience and background by being involved in organ transplantation for five years on top of my own medical experiences with my health and being a large GI practice Administrator. The education in this area sure has paid off.

 

Thank you for your responses and information. I appreciate your taking the time to read and respond to my posts.

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Hi Craig,

 

I am now 4 years post. What I learned about psychological concerns following stroke I learned here from Stroke Network. for me, it seemed that all the docs and rehab personnel were only concerned at that time with the physical deficits from stroke.

 

Stress can do a number on anyone and can even be further intensified following stroke. You are dealing with a lot with your parents and your own health.

 

Please speak with your doctor before further health issues arise.

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In my case, the psychological effects of my stroke have been far, far worse than the physical effects.

 

I stroked with a burst AVM (bleed) eleven years ago at the age of 51. I was awarded a very small disability pension about two years later after struggling to try to work.

 

I have been struggling with depression and anger (as well as severe physical pain and chronic fatigue) ever since.

 

For about two years, I consulted a psychiatrist but after 40 sessions the best he could come up with was "Well, if I had gone through what you've been through, I would be depressed too!"

 

Today is my 62nd birthday and I am spending it as I have spent most of the last 11 years, struggling to find a place in the world.

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I agree that the focus after my husband's stroke was on physical improvements which was critical obviously but no one ever mentioned psychological support at that time or at a later date. He was always positive while in rehab, worked hard to regain capabilities but months later I saw the emotional issues that weren't addressed and really still aren't. While I was the one who asked for and used an anti-depressant for a year so that I could handle our life changes he didn't think he had any problem. When I sought counseling after two years of demands and constant nit-picking he said I had the problem and thought counseling was a good idea. I have a problem and it is him. Blithely unconscious of his nastiness and offended when I point out something, some early intervention at the time of the stroke could have at least made him aware of the possibility of emotional distress.

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hi, my name is cathy and i stroked at the age of 50 yrs old. i was totally paralyzed and unable to swallow or speak or understand. i have been told that my stroke was severe enough that iwould likley ahve died had it not been for my husband who was in the room with me whenit hit and he called 911 immediately. i was rushed to a large hospital with a neurologist on staff and was seen quickoly and given t-pa. this fast attention saved my life literally. it was the first time that hospital had successfully used t-pa and they didn't knwo what to expect. my deficits disappeared almost immediately and with in hours i was up and walking again. i assumed i had been healed. but this was not true. unbeknownst to everyone, i had sustained a huge amount of brain damage and cognitive problems ensued. physically i appear fine but walking and talking simultaneously, is a difficult feat for me. i was unable to walk and move my head without getting dizzy. and i couldn't think while standing upright. things like making change in a store were impossible. after 5 years, i have learned to accept my limitations and i nap daily., i am unable to work and was lucky to be awarded ssdi. i retired from my job as a teacher and i do volunteer work at a local nursery school. i just wish people were willing to try to understand how hard it is each day to get up and get moving. i didn't think i deserved to be depressed because is could walk. of course iwas thinking of the stereotype of a stroke survivor. and now i realize that i am special to havee survived and pushing through each day. it has caused depression in my as well. i have two bouts of clinical depression. i see a social worker and a psychiatrist regularly. and i tgake anti depressants regularly. i tried going off them with direction from the doctor but the depression returnedl. i will neve stop taking them now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No, it's definitely not you. It's been years for me and I'm still finding things out!!

 

Susan :bookread:

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Hi Craig,

 

I'm an almost 3 year survivor. On May 5 it will be 3 years since my stroke. I had many visits with a Psycologist (not sure of the spelling here) while I was in rehab after my stroke. He warned me that my emotions would be all messed up. I stll cry at the drop of a hat. Something I never did before. I also laugh at times when there is nothing laughable happening. My anger comes to the forefront quite often too. I and my wife were well counciled about this before I went home. So it makes it easier to understand and control these unexpected outbursts. My wife, now my caregiver, is an angel of understanding. I owe her a lot.

 

Also I joined three stroke support groups in my local area. It get me out and about at least 3 times a week, and heelps greatly. We talk about problems such as anger management or depression. We all have similar problems and what someone else tries to aleviate them may help me. Thats why the interaction of support groups and our peers helps us cope. Also now that I can drive myself again, it gives my wife freedom away from me for a few hours three times a week. Sometimes she does attend the groups with me, and sometimes she does things for her.

 

I strongly suggest you avail yourself of the support of your peers. Join a support group in your area. If there aren't any the heavily use this online group. We do help one another. It's good to have friends that face the same problems we do. Im sure everyone in here is willing to talk with anyone at any time.

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I think the reason the doctors dont tell us much is because every patient experiences their own psychological issues and they must deal with them their way. There are plenty of resources out there. I have found www.tbiguide.com to be an excellent source. I have found that I can relate to TBI survivors so much and stroke itself can take so many different forms that nobody knows exactly what to tell a survivor.

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Guest electric Heart

Nope, never told a thing and I've had a Psychiatrist through all of my illnesses. Since my stroke and open heart surgery I have attempted suicide 3 times (one I don't remember) and am on my second round of group dialectical behavior therapy. Recently I was self medicating and getting into all kinds of trouble and I feel like my medical team should have seen this coming instead of being so shocked by it.

Ally

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