According to a new study published in the September, 2012, issue of Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, depression following stroke is a big problem affecting around 33% of stroke survivors. The study reports that the more uncertainty about the outcome from the stroke the higher the probability that patients will develop depression. Higher depression levels are more pronounced in the male population.
Study Reveals Higher Risk of Depression in Males
“Male stroke survivors in the US who subscribe to traditional health-related beliefs may be accustomed to, and value highly, being in control of their health,” says lead investigator Michael J. McCarthy, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati College of Health Sciences School of Social Work. “For these individuals, loss of control due to infirmity caused by stroke could be perceived as a loss of power and prestige. These losses, in turn, may result in more distress and greater depressive syndromes.”
The study involved 36 survivors (20 men & 16 women) who had their first stroke within the preceding 36 months prior to the start of the study. The study measured the survivors’ symptoms of depression, along with their ability to perform daily living (i.e. bathing, cutting food, dressing) activities. The extent to which survivors were experiencing health uncertainty relating to the outcome, was evaluated by their agreement with statements such as “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Anxiety Key Factor in Depression
Researchers discovered the greater the health uncertainty the more likely it was that the patient would suffer from depression. This applied to both sexes; however, the association was significantly stronger for male survivors.
“These findings suggest that reducing health uncertainty through proactive communication with patients and family members may be an effective approach for reducing survivor distress and, ultimately, for improving rehabilitation outcomes, Dr. McCarthy says. “They also reinforce the importance of rehabilitation professionals acknowledging that health related beliefs can have a tangible impact on patient outcomes.”
More Research Needed
Because the sample size was small and it lacked diversity, the outcome cannot be applied to the general population. However, future research using a larger, more diverse sample will examine how gender based health related beliefs affect the outcome for survivors.
2012, September 14). “Uncertain About Health Outcomes, Male Stroke Survivors More Likely To Suffer Depression Than Females.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from