Depressive Symptoms After Ischemic Stroke: Population-Based Comparisons of Patients and Caregivers With Matched Controls

Academic Article


  • Background and Purpose- Persistent depression after ischemic stroke is common in stroke survivors and may be even higher in family caregivers, but few studies have examined depressive symptom levels and their predictors in patient and caregiver groups simultaneously. Methods- Stroke survivors and their family caregivers (205 dyads) were enrolled from the national REGARDS study (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) into the CARES study (Caring for Adults Recovering from the Effects of Stroke) ≈9 months after a first-time ischemic stroke. Demographically matched stroke-free dyads (N=205) were also enrolled. Participants were interviewed by telephone, and depressive symptoms were assessed with the 20-item Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale. Results- Significant elevations in depressive symptoms (Ps<0.03) were observed for stroke survivors (M=8.38) and for their family caregivers (M=6.42) relative to their matched controls (Ms=5.18 and 4.62, respectively). Stroke survivors reported more symptoms of depression than their caregivers (P=0.008). No race or sex differences were found, but differential prediction of depressive symptom levels was found across patients and caregivers. Younger age and having an older caregiver were associated with more depressive symptoms in stroke survivors while being a spouse caregiver and reporting fewer positive aspects of caregiving were associated with more depressive symptoms in caregivers. The percentage of caregivers at risk for clinically significant depression was lower in this population-based sample (12%) than in previous studies of caregivers from convenience or clinical samples. Conclusions- High depressive symptom levels are common 9 months after first-time ischemic strokes for stroke survivors and family caregivers, but rates of depressive symptoms at risk for clinical depression were lower for caregivers than previously reported. Predictors of depression differ for patients and caregivers, and standards of care should incorporate family caregiving factors.
  • Published In

  • Stroke  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Roth DL; Haley WE; Sheehan OC; Liu C; Clay OJ; Rhodes JD; Judd SE; Dhamoon M
  • Start Page

  • 54
  • End Page

  • 60
  • Volume

  • 51
  • Issue

  • 1