Emotional Impact of Stroke

Everyone deals with stroke differently, and you may experience many emotions after a stroke: fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, sadness, and a sense of grief for your physical and mental losses. These feelings are natural and very common.

Some emotional disturbances and personality changes may also be caused by the physical effects of brain damage. This depends on where and how severely the brain is injured.


Clinical depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling sense of hopelessness and sadness. This is the emotional disorder most commonly experienced by stroke survivors. Depression can be overwhelming, affecting the spirit and confidence of everyone in your life. It can create a dangerous cycle of isolation and despair that disrupts your thinking and daily functions.

Apathy is a related condition that can show itself in decreased or flattened emotions and lack of motivation. Depression and apathy can hinder stroke recovery and your quality of life.

As you recover from stroke, depression may lift by itself. However, some cases of depression require long-term treatment. Most people with depression feel better with medication and therapies. Caregivers and family members of stroke survivors are also at risk of depression, so keep an eye on yourself and others in the family who may be having trouble adjusting to a new reality. Your care team can connect you with professional help when necessary, so be sure to share these concerns openly.

Intimacy and Relationships

Part of getting back into a normal routine involves resuming a healthy sex life. However, stroke can change your body and how you feel, which can affect sexuality. Stroke survivors often report a decrease in sexual desire and how often they have sex.

If impotence or sexual difficulties do not resolve, many types of treatment are available, and there are physicians and psychologists who specialize in this field. Your care team can connect you with the resources to meet your needs.

Getting Help

Emotional changes are normal after you have had a stroke, and help is available. Be open and honest with your care team. They can help you navigate these challenges.