Most stroke survivors are in good mental health, study says

Jan. 9 (UPI) — Two-thirds of people who’ve suffered strokes have good mental health, even after their negative health event, a new study says.

The study participants didn’t have any anxiety disorders, depression, substance dependence or feelings of suicide, according to the findings published Wednesday in the Journal of Aging and Health.

“Our definition of ‘complete mental health’ sets a very high bar, requiring that respondents were happy and/or satisfied with their life on an almost daily basis,” Esme Fuller-Thomson, a researcher at Institute for Life Course and Aging at the University of Toronto and study lead author, said in a news release.

The researchers point to the stroke survivors having another person to talk to and no chronic pain as important factors in keeping a positive mind state.

Having a confidant and being free of chronic pain were important predictors. In contrast, a history of childhood maltreatment and a lifetime history of mental illness decreased one’s likelihood of achieving complete mental health after a stroke.

“One of our most exciting findings was the fact that stroke survivors with at least one confidant were four times more likely to be in complete mental health in comparison to those who were socially isolated. This suggests targeted interventions for socially isolated and lonely patients may be particularly helpful in optimizing well-being after a stroke,” said co-author Lisa A. Jenson, a recent University of Toronto MSW graduate.

The study excluded stroke survivors who live in long-term health living facilities.

Strokes are responsible for about one in 20 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We hope that these findings of incredible resiliency in stroke survivors are encouraging to stroke patients, their families and the health profession,” said Fuller-Thomson. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

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