Post-stroke depression: A 2020 updated review

Gustavo C. Medeiros, Durga Roy, Nicholas Kontos, Scott R. Beach

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Post-stroke depression (PSD) is common and associated with higher mortality, poorer recovery, more pronounced cognitive deficits, and lower quality of life than is stroke without depression. This manuscript will conduct an updated, comprehensive and clinically-useful review of the risk factors, pathophysiology, assessment, prevention, and treatment of PSD. Methods: This narrative review summarizes articles obtained on PubMed, Medline, EMBase, Google Scholar and the Cochrane Database. This review prioritized articles with a more robust level of evidence, such as original articles with longitudinal data and/or larger samples, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, and metaanalyses. Results: One hundred twenty-four articles were reviewed, of which 44 (35%) were published before 2016 and 80 (65%) that were published since 2016. Discussion: Rates of PSD range from 18 to 33%, yet it is vastly underdiagnosed and undertreated. Risk factors for PSD include female sex, history of psychiatric illness, large or multiple strokes, injuries in frontal/anterior areas or in the basal ganglia, stroke occurrence within the past year, poor social support, and pronounced disability. The pathophysiology of PSD is multifactorial and likely involves decreased levels of monoamines, abnormal neurotrophic response, increased inflammation with dysregulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity. The evidence for preventive interventions for PSD is somewhat inconsistent and modest. The best treatment for PSD consists of the combination of pharmacological, psychosocial and stroke-focused interventions. Conclusion: PSD is a common, treatable condition that is associated with several negative outcomes. Early detection and proper management are critical to obtain better outcomes in individuals with PSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-80
Number of pages11
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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