If you have had a stroke, there is one thing you cannot overlook.
It is a symptom that can affect you regardless of what part of your brain is damaged, how old you are or how good doctors expect your recovery to be.
And of all the effects of stroke, this is the most debilitating.
What am I talking about?
That is right; stroke depression is one of the biggest challenges stroke survivors can face. Depression does more than make you feel sad. Most stroke survivors with depression are not motivated to work in their recovery.
If you have depression after stroke, there is a high possibility that you will not recover as fast or as well as you can.
Considering that up to 40% of stroke survivors have symptoms of depression after stroke, it is important to know what to do about it.
How to Reduce Stroke Depression
Reducing stroke depression is actually easier than you think. With a few simple tools practically anyone can have more motivation in their stroke recovery and feel good again.
Here are a few simple tips for reducing depression after stroke:
- Eat Right
If you are lacking in certain nutrients you are a lot more likely to feel depressed. One main nutrient is the Omega 3 essential fatty acid, E.P.A.
E.P.A has been found over and over again to be a useful tool for combating depression. So make sure you get yours.
E.P.A is found in oily fish such as sardines, salmon and herring. You can also get E.P.A from walnuts and leafy green vegetables, though fish sources have higher quantities.
High quality omega 3 supplements are another option. Choose one with no mercury or other contaminants. Also aim for one that is cold pressed, as heat makes the oil less effective.
Increasing E.P.A in your diet will give you another added bonus: E.P.A is usually found with D.H.A, and together they improve brain and nerve function. That means that taking E.P.A and D.H.A can improve your stroke recovery, as well as combat stroke depression.
- Get Sunlight
Getting out doors can be a challenge for stroke survivors, particularly in the early days.
But fresh sunlight can be incredibly beneficial for your health and mental state.
In fact, light therapy is a therapeutic technique for treating depression. That is how beneficial sunlight can be for you if you have depression after stroke.
Enjoy at least 30 minutes outside each day. If you have the option, enjoy several hours outside. The fresh air and sunlight will put a smile on your face.
In the early days of stroke recovery it is important to get this time outside. If you are in a wheelchair, get your caregiver to take you outside.
If your loved one has had a stroke and is still in hospital, see if you can take them for a walk outdoors on hospital grounds. Open the blinds to let the sun in.
Smiling is not just a result of feeling good. It can also help make you feel good.
Forcing yourself to smile can trigger endorphins in your brain. These hormones help you feel happy. Even if you do not have anything to smile about, smile. Then laugh. As you do this think of the things you do have to smile and laugh about. Think of good times past, funny memories and your favorite memories.
Get your friends and family to tell you good things that are happening, so that not everything is about your stroke. Smile and look for the good in situations. This will help alter your brain chemistry to a happy state- the complete opposite of a depressed state.
So have smiling time where you smile for 5 minutes several times each day.
For family and caregivers: help your stroke survivor to smile. If they have facial paralysis or drooping, still encourage them to smile. Frowning will not help the other side get better but smiling will. Be understanding of their feelings, and give them things to smile about.
Remember that overcoming stroke depression might not happen overnight. But by following these simple tips, you can feel a lot better. You will also help prevent depression from happening again. And, you will help your stroke recovery.