How a Stroke Can Change Your Personality

A stroke can produce major life-altering changes, such as impaired vision and diminished physical strength and coordination. In addition to the obvious physical handicaps of a stroke, a stroke can also produce significant personality changes. If you are a stroke survivor, your post-stroke behavioral changes can hit you and your loved ones by surprise if you suddenly do not act like “yourself” anymore.

Once you learn how to identify the most common personality changes after a stroke, you can begin to gain a sense of reassurance, knowing that there is an explanation for why you or your loved one might be acting a little different. Recognizing personality changes can be a huge step in modifying unwanted behavior as you purposefully work towards getting back some of the personality traits that make you feel more like “you.”

Depression

After a stroke, it is very common to experience a sense of unhappiness and sadness. In fact, as many as 60 percent of stroke survivors report prolonged depression, which is depression that is more severe and long lasting than routine sadness.

Post-stroke depression results from a combination of biological and situational factors. First of all, the obvious effects of a stroke, such as weakness, vision loss, and coordination problems may cause a sense of sadness if you feel disempowered by your handicap.

Additionally, after a stroke, you might worry about your health or experience anxiety about your own mortality. The resulting feelings of helplessness or hopelessness can contribute to post-stroke depression.

And the stroke-induced damage to the brain can produce changes in the way the brain functions, resulting in altered biological activity that leads to depression.

Despite all of these elements that contribute to the development of post-stroke depression, post-stroke depression is usually treatable with a combination approach that includes medication and counseling.

Many people, however, are reluctant to seek treatment for depression. Some stroke survivors hesitate to take on the label of depression out of concern that it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Others do not trust the medical system to deal with emotional issues, and others view depression as a sign of weakness.

However, if you or your loved one has lingering feelings of sadness or hopelessness, you can get effective help for this problem. The recognition that your depression is not your fault and is not a sign of weakness is an empowering step towards getting the right medical treatment.

Loneliness

After a stroke, isolation can occur if you are no longer able to do the same things you used to do. If you have to leave your job after a stroke, or if you are no longer a part of your regular social life, this can lead to a sense of loneliness.

Some stroke survivors have severe disabilities that make it difficult to drive, leave the house or even get out of bed. Extreme disability may necessitate moving into a new living environment, in part to obtain more assistance with daily living, and in part to reduce isolation and loneliness. Each stroke survivor can overcome the post-stroke sense of loneliness in his or her own unique way.

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