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Stroke: Changes in Emotions - Topic Overview

Emotional reactions after a stroke may be different from normal emotional reactions.

  • The reaction may have little or no obvious connection with what is happening around the person.
  • Often reactions can be easily interrupted by diverting the person's attention.

People who have had a stroke—usually in the front part of the brain or in the brain stem—can lose emotional control and may switch from crying to laughing for no apparent reason.

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  • Crying appears to be the most frequent problem. Crying can be a symptom of depression, which is a medical condition that requires treatment. Untreated depression can interfere with recovery. And it can have a significant impact on enjoyment of life.
  • Medicine may be needed to help control emotional responses and treat depression.

People who have had a stroke may act differently because they feel isolated and have vision problems. They may:

  • Become irritable, confused, or restless.
  • Sometimes have false beliefs (delusions).
  • Have hallucinations.

This is more likely to occur when someone has to stay in bed for long periods of time. And it is more likely to be a problem at night. A radio playing softly in the bedroom or a dim light beside the bed may be helpful during the night.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 04, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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