Depression and stroke: A common but often unrecognized combination
Pfeil, M., Gray, R. and Lindsay, B. (2009) Depression and stroke: A common but often unrecognized combination. British Journal of Nursing, 18 (6). pp. 365-369. ISSN 0966-0461
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Stroke is an extremely common rapid onset medical emergency that can cause permanent neurological damage. Depression is very common in both stroke survivors and their carers, but it is frequently overlooked in both groups. Nurses can make a substantial improvement to patient care by not only being aware of this issue, but also by making an active contribution to the detection of depression in stroke survivors and their carers. The mental health of carers is intertwined with the mental health and disease presentation of the patient. A family centred approach with a dual focus on the stroke survivor and the carer is therefore needed to maximize success in post-stroke care. Nurses can teach families to recognize depression and assist them to accept treatment. They can use the Patient Health Questionnaire 9–item depression scale (PHQ-9) as probably the most suitable screening and diagnostic tool for both groups. Nurses can play a role in destigmatizing the diagnosis and the link between symptoms of depression and treatment. Finally, nurses can play an important part in initiating, monitoring and adjusting treatment.