Feeling Emotional after a Stroke
Having had a stroke is very traumatic and stressful. It may happen suddenly but have long-lasting effects that can change many aspects of a person’s life. Having an emotional response to such a change is part of coping with the changes. Stroke survivors may respond with a range of emotions. Some people may be very sad, while others may seem quite cheerful.
Emotions may change over time. Right after a stroke a person may respond one way yet weeks later have a different response.
Knowing some things about your emotions will help you to learn ways to cope with the effects of the stroke. It will also help others to understand what you are going through.
Why are these responses different after a stroke?
Changes in the way you are feeling have two causes.
- Biological. Some changes can be due to brain injury itself.
- Psychological. Some changes are because of the effects of the brain injury. All of the changes you have to make as a stroke survivor can lead to changes in your emotions.
Which feelings are due to changes in the brain?
When a stroke occurs, the brain is injured. The emotional effects depend on where the brain was injured.
If the structures that handle emotional states are injured, it changes the way the brain deals with emotions. These two results are very common.
Mood Swings (also called emotional lability “reflex crying” or “labile mood”). This often goes away or lessens over time.
- Rapid mood changes. A person may “spill over” into tears and then quickly stop crying or may start laughing.
- Crying may not fit a person’s mood.
- Emotions may be hard to control soon after a stroke.
Post stroke depression.
- Feelings of sadness, powerlessness, inadequacy, or irritability.
- Severe depression relates to left frontal areas.
- Mild depression relates to right posterior areas.
- This may respond to medicine.
What feelings are common after a stroke?
A stroke affects a person’s life in many ways. This is very emotional for everyone involved. The type of feelings and the extent of them are both related to the stroke and the previous coping experience and style of the people involved.. Common feelings are:
Many of these feelings are a natural part of adjusting to the changes brought about by the stroke. Often, talking about the effects of the stroke and the feelings can help stroke survivors and their families work through and process feelings. This is an important step in the process of this life change.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 09/12/2012
Copyright © 09/12/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6305
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