We’ve all heard about the chicken or egg dilemma, but let me ask you this – when talking about depression and stroke together … what comes first?
Depression or stroke?
In a study published in the October 2011 volume of Stroke, depression is correlated with increased risk of stroke in females.
Researchers led by Kathryn Rexrode, MD followed 80,574 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study. These women were 54 to 79 years old and without a prior history of stroke.
They assessed depressive symptoms multiple times with a Mental Health Index. Anti-depressant use was reported every two years beginning in 1996, and physicians diagnosed depression beginning in 2000.
Researchers found that a history of depression was associated with a 29% increased risk of stroke, even after considering other risk factors for stroke.
Further, women on anti-depressants, particularly ones involving SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), had an even higher risk of stroke – 39% higher.
These are correlative findings, so we have to be careful about the conclusions that we draw.
But obviously, depression and stroke are two things that can’t be randomized.
However, this is a prospective study (it follows a group of people over a long period of time) and therefore is thought to manage some research problems encountered when not dealing with randomization.
Now back to our initial question about what comes first – stroke or depression? Other research has also correlated the occurrence of stroke to increased chance of depression.
Unfortunately, the incidence of stroke is increasing in many countries, so it is important to look at the factors related to stroke, as well as possible new treatments to improve life following a stroke.
The same goes for depression.
If you want to hear more about this, check this out.
What have you seen in terms of the connection between stroke and depression in your practice? Please leave a comment below.