psychological alterations after a stroke

A stroke or cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is among the most common reasons for seeking urgent assistance due to a cerebral circulation disorder, it should be noted that the chances of recovery decrease with each minute that elapses from the time the accident occurs until professional help is obtained.

A close relationship has been found between having suffered a stroke and personality changes, some of these changes being: difficulty empathizing with others, loss of sense of humor, aggression, loss of social inhibitions, introversion, emotional stability, stiffness or loss of initiative, among others. In this sense, here we will talk about the relationship between a stroke and personality changes.

Stroke or cerebrovascular accident

Stroke or cerebrovascular accident, both hemorrhagic and ischemic, can lead to very significant changes in personality in addition to the sequelae suffered at the physical and health level. When a person survives a stroke, they may experience a series of behavioral changes afterwards that could affect different areas of their life as well as the lives of those close to them.

As mentioned earlier, there is a close relationship between having suffered a stroke and personality changes, as it is common to experience other physical changes as well. The most common symptoms during a stroke are those that will be listed below:

  • It would be difficult to speak.
  • Loss of strength in the middle of the body (face, leg and arm on the same side).
  • Tingling sensation in the middle of the body or loss of feeling in this area.
  • A very intense headache that is different from a common headache.
  • A sudden loss of vision in one eye.

Moreover, we can highlight between risk factors to have suffered a stroke as follows:

  • lead a sedentary life.
  • Suffer from obesity and/or diabetes mellitus.
  • Regularly consume alcohol, tobacco and/or certain drugs (cocaine, amphetamines, etc.).
  • Have high blood pressure.
  • Have suffered from some type of heart disease.
  • Have high cholesterol.

It should be noted that if lifestyle habits are improved, the risk of having a stroke is significantly reducedand for this you can follow some tips like these: practice regular physical exercise, if you manage to reach a healthy weight, control your cholesterol level, stop smoking and avoid the consumption of these drugs that increase the risk of suffering a stroke or controlling diabetes, among others.

Can a stroke cause personality changes?

Since there is a relationship between having a stroke and personality changes, it is worth mentioning that recognizing these changes and finding the reason for them can be a big step in the right direction in changing these unwanted behaviors. while working with the help of a professional to find the personality traits that make the patient feel the most “themselves”. In other words, it would be advisable to start working on the traits that the patient considers most characteristic of his personality and his way of being.

Next, we will see which personality changes occur with the highest percentage in people who have had a stroke.

1. Difficulties empathizing with others

When we want to talk about the relationship between stroke and personality changes, we’ll start by explaining that it’s quite common for patients who have survived a stroke or stroke to have serious difficulty demonstrating self-esteem. empathy towards others, and this could be due to the brain damage produced in this type of case can affect a various regions of the right cerebral hemisphere.

The difficulty in showing empathy affects the relationships of these people with their loved ones, so it is practical that they are informed and therefore aware that the patient who has suffered a stroke needs understanding and professional help to form new skills that facilitate a greater development of empathy, although it is not always possible for the patient to improve in this aspect or even not enough. In any case, the help of your relatives and qualified professionals is essential.

2. A loss of sense of humor

It’s quite common for people who have had a stroke to suffer from a loss or diminished sense of humor, so someone who was funny might lose the ability to crack the jokes she was doing before she had the stroke. At a time this person might not be able to catch the jokes or find the grace.

It should be mentioned that when you suffer from a loss of your sense of humor, it can be quite difficult to recover as it usually happens due to a loss of certain cognitive skills. So you may need to work first to recover the affected skills.

3. Loss of social inhibitions

The loss of social inhibitions is also noteworthy when discussing the relationship between stroke and personality changes, and this is because some people who have had a stroke might end up behaving in ways considered socially inappropriate. This usually happens normally when the stroke occurs in the frontal lobe part of the brain. On the other hand, in this type of case, the normal thing is that the person is not aware that they are behaving inappropriately, so it could be difficult to try to correct their behavior.

4. Aggressiveness

Aggression is also common in many cases when a stroke has been suffered, being characteristic in these cases that they have become unexpectedly hostile and with higher levels of anger than previously common in these people. Additionally, some people may behave in a cruel and/or physically aggressive manner.

Aggressiveness is more characteristic of cases of patients who have suffered a severe stroke or even have one a stroke pattern that causes vascular dementia. This dementia usually develops when several small strokes have occurred over a period of time.

5. Emotional instability

Many stroke patients may suffer from emotional instability. In these cases, inappropriate laughing or crying may be observed. In addition, there are cases of patients who have suffered from what is called emotional lability or pseudobulbar syndromewhich is characterized by uncontrollable emotional expressions and sudden mood swings.

6. Social avoidance and other social behavior changes

When associating stroke and personality changes, it should be noted that it is quite common for these patients to become more introverted, isolated and/or socially avoidant. One of the causes of a person’s isolation could be the fact that after the stroke, they are not able to do certain things with ease that they previously mastered. In other more serious cases, isolation could be due to suffering severe difficulty performing various tasks (for ejemplo, lifting the leg, driving, etc.).

Other possible psychological sequelae produced after suffering a stroke

In addition to being able to observe a close relationship between stroke and personality changes, other psychological sequelae caused by stroke or stroke have also been found in different studies. These most common sequelae are those that we will see below.

1. Anosognosia

Anosognosia or stroke denial, is the stroke patient’s inability to recognize it. Therefore, anosognosia could manifest as a result of overconfidence and ignorance that there is something wrong after suffering a stroke. For this reason, it is possible that this person will feel confused when receiving medical attention aimed at the various complications suffered due to the stroke.

2. Loss of cognitive abilities

It is also very characteristic that a loss of cognitive abilities occurs after a stroke in almost all regions of the brain, although they usually occur with greater frequency in strokes that affect the parietal lobe, frontal lobe, or temporal lobe.

In the loss of cognitive abilities, in these cases, problems can be observed in problem solving, reading, logical-mathematical reasoning as well as severe language difficulties, memory problems and difficulties in understanding certain concepts . However, with the help of a professional and with the effort of improvement on the part of the patient, it is possible that an improvement will occur which will help to alleviate, to the extent possible, these types of cognitive deficits.

3. Lack of motivation or apathy

Lack of motivation is very common in people who have suffered any type of brain injury, so it is also common after suffering a stroke. And it is that due to a decrease in cognitive abilities after the stroke, many daily tasks that were previously performed without much effort now they are difficult and/or difficult to solve. In addition, depression could play an important role here.

4. Depression

Among the most common psychological sequelae after having suffered a stroke, we find depression, which is also a mental health condition that can affect several personality traits, so we could consider that depression would play an important role over time in linking a Stroke and personality changes.

In addition, in some studies carried out on this subject, it has been possible to observe that more than half of the cases of people who survived a stroke ended up suffering from symptoms of depression. this this could be because people who have had a stroke have multiple health conditions (for example, physical limitations, brain changes or other health problems).

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