Not only is this month Make May Purple with the Stroke Association, but this week (13th – 19th May) is Mental Health Awareness week.
Throughout this month, we are sharing information and advice about strokes and helping raise awareness for the effects they can have on survivors. There are around 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK. 100,000 strokes occur every year, which is one every 5 minutes. A stroke can happen to anyone, at any age and at any time.
A stroke not only affects the brain and body but can impact mental and emotional health. It’s a sudden and life-changing condition, that can lead to the loss of former independence. Many people don’t want to admit they are suffering mentally and think the emotions will eventually pass but living with overwhelming feelings can lead to further health issues.
Healthcare professionals have linked the emotional impact of a stroke to the five stages of loss; shock, anger, depression, coming to terms and acceptance. Although they can be in any order, these stages are difficult for someone to face alone.
Common mental health issues that stroke survivors can face are:
Depression – helplessness and sadness are understandable following a stroke, but the long-term effects of depression impact sleep, appetite and interests in life. Severe depression can lead to some people wanting to give up on life, increasing the risk of self-harm and suicide.
Anxiety – as a stroke is sudden and, for many, can be unexpected, the fear of another stroke or other health conditions occurring in the future can rise. The loss of previous daily routine can lead to anxiety, especially is life after a stroke has an impact on earning money and looking after a family.
Anger – the frustration of stroke symptoms and not being able to do and complete actions that were once easy can lead to anger and be taken out on those around the stroke survivor without intention. The build-up of these feelings can affect mood easily, leading to changes in behaviour.
Support is available to help stroke survivors deal with the above emotions. Speaking to a GP about these feeling will help them point you in the right direction of support available. They may refer them to a counsellor or a specialised therapist in order to talk through the emotions or will look at medication that may help.
Mental health issues cannot be cured overnight but opening up about what is going through their mind and how they are feeling will help put them on the right track to recovery.
At Heritage Healthcare, we provide dedicated and bespoke home care services to help more people continue living comfortably in their own home. Our support can help stroke survivors to regain their independence, with plans created around their unique needs and wishes. Our care team support family members too, and our respite services allow primary caregivers to have some much-needed time to themselves.