Common Mental Health Issues Among Stroke Survivors

Mental Health Issues among stroke survivors

A stroke is a life-threatening condition that can be devastating and debilitating. Not only do stroke survivors face ongoing physical limitations, but they also must contend with psychological constraints. Wheelchair users’ mental health can also be severely compromised.

With more than 80 million stroke survivors worldwide, the need for post-stroke care and ongoing support continues to increase.

Stroke Survivors Face Mental Health Challenges

When someone experiences a stroke and survives, their lives are immediately changed. Many stroke survivors have difficulties with speech, and their ability to communicate, think logically, and remember dates, faces, details, and relationships may also suffer.

Furthermore, stroke survivors must contend with the psychological challenges of wheelchair use if they are unable to walk on their own. Physical impairment is inextricably tied, at least in the initial post-stroke recovery, to wheelchair users’ mental health

Yet, the prognosis for stroke recovery is good if individuals receive appropriate care, including psychological counseling, to overcome some of their mental health issues.

Common Mental Health Issues Experienced Post-Stroke

After a stroke, individuals may experience many mental health issues. Some may only be temporary, while others may linger for months. Wheelchair users’ mental health often deteriorates immediately post-stroke.

Common mental health issues among individuals in wheelchairs include:

  • Apathy
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Carelessness
  • Emotionalism
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Mood disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Helplessness

Factors Contributing to Wheelchair Users’ Mental Health Issues in Stroke Recovery

When someone experiences a stroke, their brain is immediately affected. The brain controls everything humans do, including behavior and emotions, such as thinking, making decisions, moving, eating, sleeping, solving problems, communicating, feeling emotions, and even healing.

Mental health issues among individuals in wheelchairs are sometimes ignored due to more pressing physical rehabilitation needs. Yet, both are essential to wheelchair users’ mental health.

Coping with Physical and Cognitive Impairment

Following a stroke, individuals are confronted with physical constraints that tax them emotionally as well as physically. Many find it draining and exhausting to adjust to being in a wheelchair.

  • Accessibility challenges can be a significant barrier, contributing to feeling isolated and excluded.
  • Simple physical tasks are now incredibly challenging: moving from the wheelchair to the bed, navigating the stairs, and being unable to walk. This affects mood and self-esteem.
  • Motivation may drop precipitously, especially between physical therapy and counseling sessions. Maintaining a positive attitude can be problematic in the face of mounting frustration.
  • The psychological challenges of wheelchair use post-stroke often include depression, anxiety, and mood swings.
  • Mild to severe cognitive impairment often affects overall mental health and well-being. These include attention, problem-solving ability, and memory.
  • Speech and language may be affected. Sometimes, speech is slurred, and sentence formation is a challenge. Learning how to overcome these impairments is crucial to restoring mental health.

Strategies to Address and Manage Mental Health Concerns in Stroke Survivors

Survivors of a stroke often are wheelchair users. Mental health concerns for these individuals require as much support and rehabilitation as their physical ones.

Coping with Disability Mental Health Tips

After a stroke, it is natural to feel discouraged, even defeated. After all, much that you used to be able to do is now highly challenging, if you can do it at all. The good news is that much of your physical and psychological abilities will likely return in time. The essential thing to remember is to be active in your recovery. These tips may help.

Accept Your Situation

It’s essential to accept that you had a stroke. There is no benefit to denying the facts. While it may be hard to hear the medical diagnosis, accepting what happened is the first step toward healing. Accepting doesn’t mean that you like what happened. It is a recognition of your current reality.

Enlist Support from Others

Anyone who can help you is a potential lifeline you can and should use. This includes loved ones, family, friends, paid caregivers, neighbors, and medical professionals. You can also search for local support groups for stroke survivors. Talking about your experiences with others who’ve had a stroke lets you know you’re not alone. They healed. You can, too.

Rely Upon Your Faith

Religious beliefs can profoundly affect overall healing. Praying for acceptance and healing can be immensely powerful. Some individuals report incredible peace of mind by tapping into their spiritual beliefs.

Besides, medical science does not explain how some people make such remarkable progress post-stroke, even though the individuals say their faith guided them and was instrumental in their healing. If prayer is important and works for you, use it.

Amp Up Your Social Scene

You may want to hide from others after you’ve had a stroke, especially if you experience the psychological challenges of wheelchair use. But remember that wheelchair users’ mental health is a shared experience. Some are wheelchair-bound yet very active on social media.

If you cannot freely travel to social engagements, reach out to friends on social media, especially those you make in support groups for stroke survivors. Engage in video chats on Zoom, which may make your interaction seem more real-time and personal. You’re not in the same room but can spend quality time together. It’s the human connection that is so invaluable.

Resilience Is Important

This is a blow. There is no doubt about it. Yet, some stroke survivors say they’ve bounced back stronger than before. They know they cannot change what happened and now diligently pursue new activities. Some discover they’re stronger emotionally than they believed possible. The key is resilience. Prize and cultivate it.

Learn What You Can

To make the best of your circumstances, learn all that you can about stroke recovery and wheelchair users’ mental health. Coping with disability mental health doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Remember that knowledge is power. The more you know about common symptoms, recovery approaches, and the value of support, the more empowered you’ll feel.

Stay Positive

Negative thinking will make you miserable. It also does nothing to aid healing but can make symptoms worse. On the other hand, adopting a positive attitude is self-reinforcing. The more you can find something good in your situation, how you adapt, and the progress you make, the better your recovery outcome can be.

Comprehensive Care for Stroke Survivors’ Mental Well-Being is Important

The psychological challenges of wheelchair use can compound new and existing mental health issues. Besides the physical difficulties, coping with disability and mental health is often overwhelming, confusing, and burdensome to find proper support. The proliferation of integrated stroke units for immediate post-stroke care and stroke recovery centers for early rehabilitation is essential for stroke survivors’ long-term physical and mental well-being.

Recovery Takes a Team Effort

Helping plan a comprehensive rehabilitation program is crucial for long-term physical and mental well-being.

  • In the hyper-acute phase of early stroke rehabilitation, experts in stroke recovery, physical, occupational, and speech/language therapists, and nurse specialists with expertise in stroke care can make all the difference in an individual’s post-stroke recovery.
  • Other essential personnel in stroke survivors’ recovery help them in coping with disability plus mental health issues. These include dieticians, neuropsychologists, social workers, case managers, and recreational therapists.
  • After a stay in a stroke recovery rehab facility, stroke survivors may return to their homes to continue home therapy. They may have ongoing outpatient therapy to increase strength and balance, improve cognitive function, and receive counseling to help them deal with the psychological challenges of wheelchair use.
  • Some stroke survivors may require a long-term care environment for therapy and skilled nursing.

Tips for Improving Stroke Survivors’ Mental Well-Being

Getting professional help early is crucial to stroke survivors’ recovery, physically and mentally. To facilitate healing:

  • Participate in enjoyable hobbies and pursuits. Music, for example, provides a soothing effect that promotes healing. Discovering new activities helps with self-expression and increases a sense of accomplishment.
  • Maintaining a good sleep schedule is vital for healing and mental health. Some adaptations may be necessary for wheelchair users to ensure a comfortable sleep environment.
  • Consider devices and equipment powered by AI. AI-equipped technology can help with everyday tasks, while other apps provide access to virtual therapy, mindfulness, well-being tools, and connectivity to group support and connection.
  • Be active in adaptive physical exercises and activities. This helps improve physical strength and balance and releases endorphins to boost mood.
  • Continue with counseling to gain confidence to navigate post-stroke challenges, learn tailored strategies and techniques to cope with ongoing concerns, and increase overall happiness and wheelchair users’ mental health.