Washington: A new study, published Tuesday in the European Journal of Neurology has found that women are twice as likely to suffer from severe depression following a stroke than men. The research followed the progress of symptoms over five years after stroke onset 2,313 people and found that 20 per cent of women suffered from severe depression compared to 10 per cent of men.
The study also found varying patterns of symptom progression; that long-term increased symptoms of depression are associated with higher mortality rates; and that initially moderate symptoms in men tend to become worse over time.
The study found that patients who had their first-ever stroke between 1998 and 2016 were recruited to the study from the South London Stroke Register (SLSR) and were monitored until July 2017. Participants` mental health was assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and cross-referenced with their physical health and socio-demographic data.
Speaking about the study, lead author Dr Salma Ayis from the School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences at King`s College London, said: "While we cannot pinpoint exactly why depression is more common among women, it could be that women draw more of their sense of self and self-worth from their social relationships and so are more sensitive to challenges in maintaining these.
Also, as women live longer, they are more exposed to loneliness, poor physical health and loss of support, all of which could lead to depression. She added that what is common to both sexes is the dramatic decrease in the likelihood of survival as depression symptoms increase.
The researchers believe that by monitoring symptoms of depression in stroke survivors and acting accordingly, clinicians may be able to provide better long-term care.