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Management of depression in elderly stroke patients

Authors Lökk J , Delbari A

Published 26 August 2010 Volume 2010:6(1) Pages 539—549


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 5

Johan Lökk1, Ahmad Delbari1,2
1Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden 2Iranian Research Center on Aging, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Tehran, Iran

Abstract: Poststroke depression (PSD) in elderly patients has been considered the most common neuropsychiatric consequence of stroke up to 6–24 months after stroke onset. When depression appears within days after stroke onset, it is likely to remit, whereas depression at 3 months is likely to be sustained for 1 year. One of the major problems posed by elderly stroke patients is how to identify and optimally manage PSD. This review provides insight to identification and management of depression in elderly stroke patients. Depression following stroke is less likely to include dysphoria and more likely characterized by vegetative signs and symptoms compared with other forms of late-life depression, and clinicians should rely more on nonsomatic symptoms rather than somatic symptoms. Evaluation and diagnosis of depression among elderly stroke patients are more complex due to vague symptoms of depression, overlapping signs and symptoms of stroke and depression, lack of properly trained health care personnel, and insufficient assessment tools for proper diagnosis. Major goals of treatment are to reduce depressive symptoms, improve mood and quality of life, and reduce the risk of medical complications including relapse. Antidepressants (ADs) are generally not indicated in mild forms because the balance of benefit and risk is not satisfactory in elderly stroke patients. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the first choice of PSD treatment in elderly patients due to their lower potential for drug interaction and side effects, which are more common with tricyclic ADs. Recently, stimulant medications have emerged as promising new therapeutic interventions for PSD and are now the subject of rigorous clinical trials. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be useful, and electroconvulsive therapy is available for patients with severe refractory PSD.

Keywords: depression, poststroke, stroke

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