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Weaver53

Is anxiety a common issue after stroke?

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I am the caregiver for my husband, who had a stroke 6 weeks ago. He is at home again, but struggles so much with anxiety, with no clear cause (free floating anxiety) and also has major perseveration problems. His stroke was bi-lateral - in Wenecki's on left and parietal on right. He has no physical problems but does have aphasia. I'm new to the Community and he has asked me to post to ask if other folks have experienced this. It started in rehab and he thought it would abate after he was home and more comfortable. It has not.  When he is busy it is much better, but then out of the blue it starts up again. He also has trouble staying asleep at night.  To me it seems totally reasonable that with what has happened to him, anyone would be anxious.  But this seems to be excessive to him.  Any survivors or caretakers who could share experiences for him would be really helpful. Thank you in advance!

 

PS- it seems worse around late afternoon and in evening, and also on grey or rainy days. 

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!Sleep pattern disruption happens to me. I have more fatigue and need naps but then sleeping at night is a challenge.  Lack of sleep creates anxiety. Which makes it hard to sleep.Lol! So my docs recommed good sleep hygiene. 

 

Having a stroke means facing one's mortality. Worry about family money and other things is real not something to shush away but address so it is less troublesome.

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Anxiety after stroke is not uncommon.   Given your description I wonder if it is related to his fatigue level.  Even with no physical dysfunction he's going to be dealing with much higher fatigue than he was used to.  Pam's response is spot on.  If he doesn't want to try the drug option he may find mindfulness meditation training useful for dealing with the anxiety. Although depending on the type and severity of his aphasia he may have trouble with articulating (even non verbally) his causes of anxiety and hence looking at each thought critically and putting it away.

 

Mindfulness involves letting each thought come in be looked at and put into it's true context.  So either it is a real thing that you can do something for right now or it's not so put it in the box on the top shelf until next time.  If it's real now thing then make a plan and let it go until the plan is actioned. Either way you've done what you can right now so you can let it go and be calm.

 

Good luck

-Heather

 

 

 

 

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Hi Deb,

 

I went to your profile to see your first name.  I'm Linnie, and I survived a hemorrhagic stroke on L side, followed by vasospasm (all blood vessels in my brain became very narrow) which caused an ischemic stroke on R side.  That was almost 24 years ago, when I was 34 years old.  My deficits were cognitive and included aphasia.

 

I've never been able to remember the hospitalization or surgeries, but even after all these years, I clearly remember the acute anxiety I had when I was back in my home.  Please tell your husband that it is very common to feel anxiety (and depression) after a stroke.   You both may want to contact his doctor to discuss if medication to suppress the anxiety is needed to allow him to sleep well.  The anxiety may persist for quite some time. 

 

I'm not certain if your comment that he has perseveration problems means that he has a short attention span.  For me, the short attention span as well as sensory overload and aphasia made it very difficult to be engaged in anything, which caused the anxiety and frustration to worsen.   I constantly thought about what my future would be based on my inability to read, to have a conversation, to remember anything, etc.  I think the only time my anxiety would lessen was when I was having a bath or getting dressed (wow, Deb, that sounds pathetic....reassure him that he'll get through this, I did).  :wink: Let him know that he's not alone, that his reaction to having a stroke is felt by all stroke survivors, and he should never feel ashamed.

 

What helped me a lot was being taught deep-breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation to calm my anxiety.  I found it very effective.  Two websites you may want to look into are    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201607/breathing-techniques-anxiety and http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368?pg=2.

 

I hope this helps.  When he feels able, he may want to go to a stroke support group or join this site where he can share his concerns (and victories) with us survivors who had to go through this difficult time.  And Deb, make sure you're looking after yourself as well.  The caregivers forum on this site will give you a great deal of support.  

:hug: 

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I think it is very common to experience anxiety after a stroke in general. There are actually parts of the brain that can affect anxiety and the dopamine areas in the brain that affect it. For example myself...I had a bilateral cerebellar stroke and it affects a lot of psychological components and cognition as well as smooth working movement. I have to see my psychiatrist regularly and am medicated ( I was having severe panic attacks). Please have your husband talk with his Doctor about the anxiety. He doesn't have to suffer and they can more than likely help him to reduce his stress until his system does this for itself. That anxiety after a stroke is real, very real. It can be scary and get in the way of recovery as well. Please talk with the Doctor. I really hope your husband can find good answers to help him. Psychotherapy was also very beneficial for me. Stroke is a traumatic experience...therapy is great for loved ones and care takers as well. Best of luck.

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You have received several good responses, and I agree with all of them. I just want to make another suggestion to you about the possible cause of the anxiety to you: Biochemical. Stroke wreaks havoc in your brain. Everything is going just fine in this complicated organ- you're breathing, talking.walking, etc., then WHAM! you have a stroke, and some things just aren't working. And, one of the things that can be affected is the brain's ability to regulate neurochemicals. When your neurochemicals are out of whack, you can feel all sorts of things. Anxiety is one of them. 

 

Routinely, drs put you on an antidepressant right after having a stroke, and in some cases this takes care of anything you may be feeling, such as anxiety or depression. 

 

I didn't even know that I had an anxiety disorder until I was 7 yrs post, and went without my Zoloft, because I'd moved, and didn't have a doc for awhile. I was anxious all of the time, started having panic attacks. When I was able to fill my prescriptions, including Zoloft, the panic went away. I felt like myself again. Zoloft works by letting more of a brain chemical, Serotonin, stay in your brain.  

 

I'm not suggesting that your husband shouldn't try other, non-chemical methods to control his anxiety. What I'm saying is that this is a very common problem following a stroke, and very treatable either with medication, or through  more holistic means. There is no reason that your husband has to suffer with this, and neither do you.   Becky

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Thank you all for your wise and kind words. This was just what we needed to know. We will work on finding the path that will help him through this. The shared experience and generosity of all of you is so much appreciated!

 

In gratitude-

Debbie

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You're very welcome, Deb.  If you need advice on other issues, don't hesitate to ask.  

 

If you feel overwhelmed by being a caregiver, please join their forum; and have your husband join the Stroke Support Forum if he wishes.

 

All the best :smile:

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BTW the caregiver chat and message board on this site is awesome. friendly place to meet other caregivers who share concerns and  talk. This is great place to grow

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Did anyone feel like they might be going crazy do to all the anxiety 

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Mac I can say I did.. in the beginning. My cause of stroke is different than someone who has to deal with either health issues but I stressed on how it happened could be easy to happen again. I'm on a few anti depressants now ( almost 9 years since) but I listened to the doctor and changed some health issues and I feel more confident it won't happen but there always is a anxiety 

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My doc said it might go away in about four months. I keep doing my exercises. Can't drive yet so I'm kinda stuck at home. I will just keep praying 

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Thanks for replying kelli

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Hey Mac, being house bound doesn't help with mental issues from the stroke. If praying works for you use it. Just remember that you don't want to reinforce a negative thought pattern. If you recognise that you are letting the anxieties get the upper hand, put them away. Distract yourself with other tasks like your exercises.  If it doesn't improve in the next few months talk to your doctor about it.

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Happy new year heathber 

 I will try to stay busy

 I guess not being able to work makes it a little harder. Trying to make a list to keep myself occupied. Thanks again for your reply 

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Good morning everyone! !!!!!!!!

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I hope that you all have a great day. 

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Having a very nervous morning. But one day at a time. 2 and a half months since stroke.  It has changed my life  but I will keep on keeping on. There is no other choice. 

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9 hours ago, Mac said:

Having a very nervous morning. But one day at a time. 2 and a half months since stroke.  It has changed my life  but I will keep on keeping on. There is no other choice. 

My anxiety can be intense and it has been a little over the top.  Very common.  Be very careful with anxiety medications; some folks have bad reactions.  My reaction to a common anxiety med resulted in a very rude, unpleasant occurrence.

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My husband had his stroke almost 10 months ago. He still has anxious times but it is better. At times he does take a small dose of Ativan. He tries not to too often but at times he does need one. I think his nervous system just got re-booted with the stroke. He finds it most helpful to 1) go for a walk outside, or 2) get busy doing something useful. The nights are hard sometimes.  He listens to a recorded ocean sounds cd when that happens. 

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Posted (edited)

Anxiety is VERY common after a stroke. Sometimes I will walk around in circles in the house for hours at a time. I know something that takes the anxiety away immediately, but unfortunately I work for a company that won't put up with that and it may not be legal in your state. Therefore I just suffer with the anxiety and try to make the best of it, because pharmaceuticals and I don't get along.

Edited by Russ
Typo

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Hey russ

Yeah I was not prepared for this almost constant anxiety. I keep hearing and most of the time believe that it is caused by the damage to my brain, but sometimes I believe it's just me going crazy. I sure do hope that it can heal itself. It is really messing with my rehab. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Mac said:

Hey russ

Yeah I was not prepared for this almost constant anxiety. I keep hearing and most of the time believe that it is caused by the damage to my brain, but sometimes I believe it's just me going crazy. I sure do hope that it can heal itself. It is really messing with my rehab. 

 

 

Thanks for the reply, Mac.   I am really having difficulty controlling my emotions. I can be very rude when people are rude to me, but I exponentially amp up the rudeness.  Sometimes when I am alone I will just swear over and over again for no particular reason.  I often wonder if I am losing a hold on my sanity.

Edited by Russ
Left something out.

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Me and you both brother. Every morning I wake up with anxiety that is crippling. I just have to keep on going for another day

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