Your Mood Affects Your Brain Health

 

For years, mood has been believed to have a causative effect on stroke. We have all heard people may say things like, “you are going to give me a stroke!” or “he was so upset after getting fired from his job that he had a stroke,” These statements may sound more mythical than scientific, but now there is scientific support to the age old notion that negative moods actually contribute to stroke risk over the course of our lives.

Research studies have suggested that depression, stress, anxiety and loneliness are truly real stroke risk factors.

People who are prone to anxiety, irritability, stress, agitation, depression and hopelessness are not only more prone to stroke- research has demonstrated that those with negative moods may even experience a worsened overall stroke recovery compared to those who have more neutral or positive moods.

Additionally, scientific research suggests that those who are more optimistic, resilient and have stronger social support networks tend to experience an overall better recovery after a stroke. In fact, stroke survivors who have pets heal better after a stroke!

What can you do?

Just learning that having an overall negative mood can increase your stroke risk is enough to put you in a negative mood! But you do not have to accept your mood or your stroke risk as it is. In fact, you can reverse your stroke risk, no matter how old you are.

Controlling your mood is not easy. But it can be done. Some tools include maintaining peace through relationships, religious practice, and getting enough exercise. Often, acknowledging our own strengths and weaknesses and building healthy habits that best suit your personality helps you understand that your own strengths are worthwhile.

It is hard to separate your mood from what is going on in your life. So, while persistent stress can contribute to stroke, you often need to address underlying issues in your life to help you diminish your stress.

Your marriage or divorce can be so unhealthy, that it is worthwhile to try to repair the mood issues associated with a stressful marriage or a contentious divorce because both have been associated with an increased risk of stroke.

You might need professional help to overcome your stress. Extreme anxiety and depression, such as  post traumatic stress disorder require professional intervention. Post traumatic stress disorder has been proven to raise. the risk of stroke.

The stroke - mood cycle

On the other hand, a stroke can also have an effect on mood. Some stroke survivors become agitated, angry, depressed or hopeless after a stroke. A whole glut of unwelcome and confusing emotions can hit you after a stroke. 

The effect that a stroke has on the brain itself can contribute to mood changes for some stroke survivors.

And, of course, disability and health fears contribute to anxiety and depression after a stroke. Some people may become depressed and agitated a few months after a stroke if recovery takes longer than expected or seems to hit a wall. 

Few stroke survivors, on the other hand, actually begin to display more optimism and a pleasant or happier demeanor after a stroke.

 

You do not have to accept your mood as a stroke risk factor. Start making changes today- even when it isn't the 'new year,' you can make positive resolutions now.

 

Sources:

Ischemic Stroke in Young Adults and Preexisting Psychiatric Disorders: A Nationwide Case-Control Study, Chiu YC, Bai YM, Su TP, Chen TJ, Chen MH, Medicine, September 2015

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