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Common triggers for depression after a brain injury like stroke


Common triggers for depression after a brain injury like stroke

To mark National Stroke Survivor Day this week, we are focusing on acquired brain injury caused by stroke. Many people think a stroke only happens to older people but here at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, we see brain injuries caused by stroke in people of working age between 18 and 65 years. Nationally, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 strokes happen to younger people. Worryingly, a recent study showed a 26% increase in strokes under 65.

Depression and stroke

The sudden shock of a stroke can turn life upside down both for the individual and their family around them. About 40% of stroke patients experience depression in those first few months after their stroke.

Trigger points

Our on-the-ground rehabilitation assistant Carolina Dominguez is an expert in dealing with stroke and how it can affect relationships. Having worked with many brain injury survivors affected by stroke, she has identified two key points of vulnerability in their recovery that can trigger depression.

Carolina Dominguez Rehabilitation Assistant with Acquired Brain Injury IrelandTrigger 1

She said: “There is a recovery ‘spurt’ that happens in the first three to six months after stroke, where brain injury survivors can make good progress in a short space of time. But the reality is that after this period, recovery becomes more gradual. This slower pace of recovery is often difficult and frustrating for people to accept which can affect their emotional wellbeing. Working with people on their recovery goals, we take care to make our brain injury survivors aware that recovery happens more slowly after the initial period and that this is perfectly normal.”

Trigger 2

At Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, our aim is to empower brain injury survivors to live life as independently as possible. However achieving the ultimate goal of independence can also bring feelings of abandonment and this is another potential trigger for depression.

Ms Dominguez added: “When the rehabilitation team decides that their input is no longer required, a person may feel abandoned. So it’s important that this transition is carefully explained so we can reassure individuals that the team has put the tools in place that allows them to continue and maintain the progress achieved.”


Every brain injury is unique and it’s important to remember that not everyone recovers at the same rate. See more about how long symptoms last here.

Our Rehabilitation Assistants Carolina Dominguez and Eugene Murphy presented on ‘Relationship and intimacy after stroke’ at the National Stroke Survivor Day 2018.


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