Depression Drugs Aren't Only for Sad People

Mental health antidepressants help stroke victims recover

(RxWiki News) Research has already shown that drugs for treating depression can help people recover after a stroke.

Now, a new study shows that stroke patients not only have a better recovery when taking antidepressants, but they also continue to recover after they stop taking mental health medications.

Knowing that antidepressants help patients recover from stroke, researchers set out to see if the helpful effects last after patients stop taking the drugs.

The researchers found that stroke patients continue to recover after they stop taking antidepressants. What's more, the rate of their recovery increases after medication stops.

"Antidepressants help people recover from stroke."

For their research, Robert Robinson, M.D., head of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, and colleagues studied 83 patients who had recently suffered a stroke. Of these patients, 54 were assigned to take antidepressants while 29 took a placebo.

Even though depressed patients who took a placebo showed signs of recovery for the first few months of the study, their recovery slowed down in comparison to those who took antidepressants.

Stroke patients who were assigned to antidepressants showed signs of steady recovery over the course of the one year study.

According to Robinson, many patients started the study with such disability that they could not complete daily activities on their own.

After being treated with antidepressants, these patients still had some symptoms but, on average, could take care of themselves.

Even though the size of this study was small, further research can confirm the results. If these findings are backed up by larger studies, they could have a huge impact on public health, says co-author Harold Adams, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Iowa.

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Review Date: 
April 8, 2011