Researchers are finding new uses for anti-depression medications. Their studies suggest that these drugs can help in a stroke patients recovery, even if they are not depressed. This study was published in the Cochrane Library and it shows that in the first year after a stroke, anti-depression drugs can help lower anxiety, physical disability, dependence and then, of course, depression. It is also believed that these medications can stimulate new nerve growth or even protect the cells that were damaged in the stroke.
The death rate of stroke patients is declining and it is important to find new protocols to keep the death rate low. People who recently had a stroke may be more likely to become physically active if they are on the drugs and not suffering from depression. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh went through and examined 52 different studies that focused on selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.
Gillian Mead, who is a professor at the University of Edinburgh that teaches stroke and elderly care medicine, noticed the potential of these treatments. Mead still believes that larger clinical studies need to take place to help them clarify their findings. Mead says,
“Anti-depressants have been successfully used for many years to relieve depression. However, it now appears that they also have effects on the brain that may help patients make a better recovery from the physical effects of stroke. The results of this meta-analysis are extremely promising. We do not yet fully understand how anti-depressants could boost recovery after stroke, but it may be because they promote the growth of new nerve cells in the brain, or protect cells damaged by stroke.”