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Stroke: Changes in Emotions

Topic Overview

Emotional reactions after a stroke may be different from normal emotional reactions.

  • The reaction may have little or no obvious connection with what is happening around the person.
  • Often reactions can be easily interrupted by diverting the person's attention.

People who have had a stroke—usually in the front part of the brain or in the brain stem—can lose emotional control and may switch from crying to laughing for no apparent reason.

  • Crying is the most frequent problem.
  • Medicine may be needed to help control emotional responses.

Crying can also be a symptom of depression, which is a medical condition that often gets better with treatment. Untreated depression can interfere with recovery. And it can have a big impact on how much a person enjoys life.

People who have had a stroke may act differently because they feel isolated and have vision problems. They may:

  • Become irritable, confused, or restless.
  • Sometimes have false beliefs (delusions).
  • Have hallucinations.

This is more likely to occur when someone has to stay in bed for long periods of time. And it is more likely to be a problem at night. A radio playing softly in the bedroom or a dim light beside the bed may be helpful during the night.

If you notice that your loved one has a sudden change in emotion or mental state, it may be delirium. For delirium, the person may need medical care.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Richard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Current as of March 12, 2014

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