Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Depression May Increase Risk of Stroke

Study Also Shows Link Between Depression and Risk of Dying From Stroke
WebMD Health News

Sept. 20, 2011 -- Many people become depressed after they experience a stroke, but new research shows that depression may actually increase risk of stroke and of dying from that stroke.

"We didn't know whether depression, per se, could increase the risk of stroke, but now we have conclusive and compelling evidence that it can," says study researcher An Pan, PhD, research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

The new findings should serve as a call to action to diagnose and treat depression, experts tell WebMD.

"Depression affects quality of life, heart disease, and stroke risk," says Ralph Sacco, MD. He is chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the immediate past president of the American Heart Association.

"Depression is prevalent and is probably underdetected and undertreated. So this is another reason to think about monitoring people for depression and getting them the proper treatment," he says. Sacco was not involved in the new study.

The new analysis included 28 studies of more than 300,000 people. During a follow-up period that ranged for two to 29 years, there were 8,478 strokes. Depressed people turned out to be 45% more likely to experience any type of stroke than those who were not depressed. They were also at a 55% increased risk for dying from that stroke.

The new findings appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Why Depression Is Linked to Stroke Risk

So how does depression increase stroke risk? There are many theories.

It may be that people who are depressed don't take care of themselves. They tend to eat less healthfully and get less exercise. They may also smoke and engage in other unhealthy behaviors that set them up for strokes.

People who are depressed are also less likely to take their medication as prescribed. This may include blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering drugs. Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are risk factors for stroke.

There are a few other possibilities as well. The same inflammation markers in the bloodstream that set the stage for stroke may also play a role in causing depression. What's more, antidepressants have been linked to stroke risk, too.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path