The Psychological Effects of a Stroke

A new study out of the Cleveland Clinic is looking at the psychological effects of a stroke.

The physical effects are well-documented. While every stroke is different, there are certain shared physical symptoms for a stroke. The American Stroke Association brings those symptoms together with their helpful acronym––F.A.S.T.––which can be used to know when someone is having a stroke. Face drooping, arm weakness, and difficulty speaking are all physical signs of a stroke.

But what about the psychological effects afterward? How do strokes affect people emotionally?

Impact of Stroke Damage

Irene Katzan from the Cleveland Clinic looked at how people’s lives changed after a stroke. “The three aspects of health that were most impacted in patients who have had a stroke are physical functions, cognitive abilities – their ability to think through things – and their satisfaction with their roles in society,” said Dr. Katzan.

The study questioned 1,195 people who had experienced an ischemic stroke to discover what was different after they returned to their day-to-day lives. The study aimed to uncover the hidden quality-of-life impact of strokes. Moreover, it provided valuable information for caregivers helping a loved one after a stroke to better understand what may be happening emotionally.

“For people with more disability, what bothers them the most? Problems with sleep? Depression? Fatigue? Not many studies have asked people how they feel about these problems, and we doctors have often focused just on physical disability or whether they have another stroke,” [Katzan] says.

The study reported:

While 63 percent reported greater physical challenges following a stroke compared to the general population, 46 percent reported having increased difficulty with thinking. Likewise, 58 percent reported greater dissatisfaction with their ability to participate in social and work-related activities.

As Katzan points out, these findings are only a first step. More information is needed in order to best understand a stroke’s impact on emotional health. This study opens the door for more research to be done looking at how to ensure that people still feel socially connected following a stroke. Life changes following a stroke, which means that all aspects of a person’s life need to be addressed, not just the physical effects.

Image: Emily Morter via Unsplash



  • Anonymous
    April 11, 2018 at 8:27 am

    My adult grandson has aphasia as a result of TBI. I’ve had several TIAs, diagnosed only because I had a short minute of aphasia one morning! Hence the reasons I belong to this group. Thank you, keep the information coming!

  • lora
    April 11, 2018 at 8:30 am

    While I’m thankful my physical problems from my stroke are minimal, my cognizant problems, which are unseen, are sometimes minimized by friends and family. Just because I LOOK fine, don’t assume I am.

  • rita hill burney
    April 11, 2018 at 8:56 am

    I have a sister who had a stroke in 200 and have been her care nicer along with my Mother since then. I found that in New Jersery there are few programs
    for stroke clients and that speech therapy is about the only thing they have. Sometimes it helps and other times it does not. I myself am retired now but worked as an advocate for the mentally challenging for years and have a clear picture of what disabled, emotionally and physically challenged stroke
    clients feel and need. Until New Jersey gets a real handle on helping these people who unfortunately have to eventually go into facilities as
    family member r aging and can no longer provide for them they will not get any good and appropriate services. NEW JERSEY NEEDS TO STEP UP TO THE

  • Joy Leland
    April 11, 2018 at 10:49 am

    My sister suffered a massive stroke 3 years ago, immediately following surgery to repair a non-bleeding brain aneurysm. I am now her caregiver. She is paralyzed on the right side and has Aphasia. The social impact of her stroke has been devastating, to both of us. She was extremely social and independent before the stroke. Now, none of her “friends” visit and she rarely goes out because communication is so difficult for her and people don’t know what she’s trying to say. We live in a rural area and my husband and I are new to the area, so I haven’t had the time, energy or opportunity to make friends in the area. My husband suffers greatly because we are away from all the rest of our friends and family. It’s a depressing way of life. We make the best of it because we can’t see any other way – if we weren’t here to help my sister live in her own home (with full-time aide & assistance) she would be in a facility, and we are hoping to avoid that for as long as we can.

  • Renee
    April 11, 2018 at 11:27 am

    My husband had a stroke in 2010. When you meet him you can’t tell until he tries to talk. After awhile he shuts down because he gets so frustrated. I agree so much with Lora. Just because he looks ok people assume that he is ok and don’t give him the time to get his thoughts out. We are so lucky that we found the Aphasia Clinic at Moss Rehab . They have helped him cope better and showed him other ways that he can use to communicate.

  • sahalu saidu
    April 11, 2018 at 11:44 am

    an all around ggod wok, i just wish some solutions were offered.

  • sahalu saidu
    April 11, 2018 at 11:51 am

    as a recent stroke survivor. i am aware of my physical deficit. but not of psychological if any. the trick for some is how can you tell if you have psychological defecits?gld studies are done in the a.

  • Maria Trinidad
    April 11, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    I would very much appreciate information regarding aphasia when the cause is a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Is the rehabilitation management similar? My 66 year brother suffered from brain aneurysm resulting in a subarachnoid hemorhage 15 months ago. He is now medically stable and starting to utter words but I am desperate to help him regain his speech.

  • Regina Hutson
    April 11, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    I’ll be 30 in May. I had brain injuries Nov. 13, 2016. I have aphasia, and my life has completely changed! I cried for a year, you never know what you have until it’s gone. People think youre fine because youre silent, we’re not. For all who has it and their friends and family Stay strong, and keep youre head up!!!!

  • Jacqueline O’Doherty
    April 11, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    @ Rita Hill Burney
    Contact JFK in Edison, NJ. They have an excellent cognitive rehab program as well at PT/OT

  • Kate
    April 11, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    There is also a higher likelihood of depression, ADHD and random emotional oubursts, such as random crying and irritability. Plus, there are potential personality changes, particularly with children. Additionally, what may be seen as hesitency is actually due to it being much more difficult to originize one’s thought and might be misinterpreted as not knowing what one is talking about.

  • Anonymous
    April 11, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    TIA’s are small to others…..but to the person who is having them, they are very large. They don’t show up on the “charts”. tests, but they are very real.

    What information can you share with me?

  • Anonymous
    April 11, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Our son had a stroke 6 months ago. We are having a hard time finding places and or therapists/people who offer help when the insurance no longer pays. Is there a data base somewhere for caregivers to locate help. We can’t find any resources other than the Stoke Assoc. who give help and information. So thankful for this Association. Keep up your support for those of us on the front lines.

  • Eydie
    April 15, 2018 at 8:15 am

    How can I get someone to come and see my brother?he is in a facility long term as I am the only caregiver he doesn’t leave his room shades closed wants to die. It’s almost 4 years since hi stroke paralyzed on right side can’t walk talk and gets very angry when you suggest doing anything. Help how can I get him help to speak? Please help him We are on LI w.Babylon facility.thank you so much .

  • Brian Dutton
    April 16, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    I had a hemmoragic stroke in 2007. I am the exception to most stroke rules, I appear to have recovered completely. My memory has been suspect since I was released from therapy. I still have memory issues but not major one thankfully. My mental process isn’t as fast as it once was.

  • Anonymous
    April 20, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Hi all,
    When I was in grad school my school had clients whose health insurance no longer paid , but patients a could still benefit from skilled speech therapy services for a wide variety of cognitive deficits due to TBI and strike come in. They were provided with therapy by graduate speech language students under the supervision of a certified SLP at the school’s speech lab. Coat was minimal (As minimal as $300 for an entire semester )
    Therapy was offered using the same skilled techniques, emotional support etc. as the patient would’ve received received in a hospital s/p brain injury. They also had support groups run by the schools speech clinic. If any of the clients reading this lives near a college that offers a masters program in speech-language pathology it is worth contacting this department to see what’s available in terms of continued therapy and support groups.
    Hope this helps a little

    If any of these

  • Joel Coleman
    April 25, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    It’s hard treading…. and navigating the swells emotions that coming out of nowhere…. People think that controlling them is easy. Take from me is the hardest thing to deal with other than fight your urges to think about for former self. I battle with myself every waking moment to able to mimic my own self and it hard to know that you will never be that whole again… That’s problematic part of having a Stroke that your caregivers will never able to tap into. The helpness part of equation. It’s easy for them say something different because thay can take a break from the daily grind.. The Stroke Survivor ever will able to do that from now on til your dying breath you will never get a break because that your NEW Normal….

  • Mark
    May 16, 2018 at 11:43 am

    62 yo brother had a major left side hemorrhagic stroke in 2016, previously on Coumadin for 20 years, had poor prognosis, but survived after Neuro surgery. Compounding this tragic event he suffered a bed fall while in Neuro Intensive Care 4 days after Neuro surgery for stroke….. causing additional head injury. Previously, he had degrees in meteorology, math, and engineering. Post stroke he can’t perform any activities of daily living without assistance. Cognitively he is very low. Post stroke awareness of limitations made him extremely depressed. We (brother and sister-in-law) have devoted our life 24/7/365 to be his caregivers. He needs not only eyes-on, but hands-on to prevent falls. He is unable to read, write, speak (Aphasia), so he can’t tell you how his life has changed. He can’t articulate any needs or even if he’s in pain. In addition he has right side paresis and right side vision loss. 2017 was a year of depression. We are working thru that and have more contentment, but everyday is an unknown. Strokes can be brutal. As a caregiver, I can say that the patient isn’t the only victim…strokes leave many victims behind. Good caregivers can never be replaced by care facilities. Their isn’t a facility in the state of Alabama or the World that he could adapt to and have the quality of life my wife and I give him. Caregiving is possibly the hardest job in the world and the biggest reward we get is when my brother can put 4 words together and make a sentence, or acknowledges a bird landing on a feeder. This isn’t how we anticipated life in our later years, but we struggle one day at a time.

  • Martha
    September 19, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    I suffered 2 strokes in 2010. I have almost no physical issues that are visible to others. However I have little to no short term memory or immediate recall. I have partial vision loss in one eye and diminished strength. I also have challenges with balance. Because my challenges are not visible I suffer from a huge amount of frustration. I can almost never finish a sentence when trying to engage in conversation. Family members typically interrupt me or leave me out of conversations. Even my husband. The frustration level is exhausting. People who don’t know me typically become uncomfortable and seem to lose patience. I understand. I get on my own nerves. They only have to deal with me for brief periods of time. I am with myself 24/7 and it is exhausting!

  • Tina
    January 29, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Martha please find me on Facebook Tina Riedlbauer …. I am going through the same thing. It’s very hard. I have had 4 strokes now…. just this past Sunday was my 4th.

  • Faizah mohd saad
    September 19, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    I’m fulltime caregiver to my husband with poststroke for 8years. As l’m retired nurse and graduated in psychology, l understand him. The only thing is no psychological rehabilitation support service offered in malaysia. I also interested to do more research on this topic but nowhere to procede. maybe somewhre in this whole there solutions. Please tell me.

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