Antidepressants (fluoxetine) Can Play a Role in Stroke Recovery

Antidepressants (fluoxetine or nortriptyline, or placebo) can play a role in stroke recovery. The placebo group showed continued worsening of their executi…

Study shows that antidepressants help improve stroke survivors thinking abilities.

It is already known that antidepressants can help stroke survivors by improving their mood. Now researchers at the University of Iowa reveal that the benefits of antidepressants extend beyond this. The study involved 47 patients who had had a stroke within the previous six months. They were assigned to one of two antidepressants, fluoxetine or nortriptyline, or placebo. The researchers carried out standard tests of cognitive functioning at the end of the 12 weeks of treatment and again two years after the start of the study.

No differences were found between the antidepressant groups and placebo at 12 weeks. But at the second evaluation, the placebo group showed continued worsening of their executive function – the ability to think and plan – while those in the antidepressant group showed considerable improvement. It would appear that the effect of antidepressants on brain tissue not affected by the stroke is positive – but slow. The researchers now plan to look at any possible brain changes, through imagery, which may have been fostered by the antidepressant treatment.

British Journal of Psychiatry March 2007

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