SAGE Journals

Depressive symptoms after stroke are associated with worse recovery

Posted on 2020-02-14 - 13:15

More studies are needed on how depressive symptoms in stroke patients can impact outcomes. We evaluated the relationship between depression symptom severity and motor outcomes in a cohort of patients with motor impairment from ischemic stroke.


We enrolled consecutive ischemic stroke patients without a clinical diagnosis of depression who presented to a single-center urban academic referral hospital. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) scale was used to measure depression symptom severity at three months. Three assessments of motor function were collected at stroke onset and three months: Fugl-Meyer upper extremity (FM-UE), Motricity Index, and Action Research Arm Test (ARAT). We assessed the association between three-month severity on PHQ-9 scores with the outcome measures using univariable and multivariable linear regression models.


Fifty-seven patients (mean age 67.8 ± 17.0 years; 50.9% male; 59.6% Caucasian) were included in the final analysis. Mean (standard deviation) outcome scores at three months were PHQ-9: 6.39 (5), Motricity Index: 86.93 (30.04), FM-UE: 52.67 (17.83), and ARAT: 43.77 (20.03). After adjusting for age, initial National Institute of Health Stroke Scale, and if patient discharged after hospitalization on a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, sex, and baseline motor outcome, we found that for every point increase in PHQ-9, the Motricity Index decreased by 0.82 points (p = 0.02) and the FM-UE decreased by 0.77 points (p = 0.049).


Depressive symptoms are common in the stroke population. Depressive symptoms after stroke are associated with multiple types of motor impairments. We need better understanding of the biologic and psychologic aspects of depression involved in stroke recovery.


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The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine


Chen Lin
Ahmed Babiker
Nina Srdanovic
Masha Kocherginsky
Richard L Harvey
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