Drugs & Aging

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 298–309 | Cite as

Epidemiology and Treatment of Post-Stroke Depression

  • Yngve Gustafson
  • Imogene Nilsson
  • Mai Mattsson
  • Monica Åström
  • Gösta Bucht


Depression is a common and serious complication after stroke. According to epidemiological studies, at least 30% of stroke patients experience depression, both early and late after stroke. However, in clinical practice only a minority of the patients are diagnosed and even fewer are treated.

There are several studies confirming the magnitude of the problem but the main conclusion which can be drawn from the few treatment studies published is that tricyclic antidepressants cannot be recommended for the treatment of post-stroke depression, mainly because of the high frequency of contraindications and adverse effects. Until now there has only been 1 double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment study from which some general conclusions can be drawn. The study evaluated a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (citalopram) and concluded that the drug was well tolerated and effective for the treatment of post-stroke depression. However, when treatment was initiated very early, both the treatment group and the placebo group improved equally during the first 7 weeks after stroke. This finding could indicate diagnostic difficulties during the first few weeks after stroke.

Arecent study, although small, comparing the combination of drugs with either noradrenergic (desipramine plus mianserin) or noradrenergic and serotonergic effects (imipramine plus mianserin) for post-stroke depression, indicated that drugs with the dual effect may be more effective. Many more double-blind placebo-controlled treatment studies and studies comparing the efficacy and adverse effects of various antidepressants in patients with post-stroke depression need to be conducted. According to 3 small studies, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) seems to be quite well tolerated and therefore ECT may also be considered in the treatment of post-stroke depression. Future studies should also address the long term efficacy of treatment for post-stroke depression.


Major Depression Stroke Patient Methylphenidate Stroke Survivor Moclobemide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yngve Gustafson
    • 1
  • Imogene Nilsson
    • 1
  • Mai Mattsson
    • 1
  • Monica Åström
    • 2
  • Gösta Bucht
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geriatric MedicineUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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