Cochrane Summaries

Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.

Interventions for preventing depression after stroke

Hackett ML, Anderson CS, House A, Halteh C
Published Online: 
16 July 2008

The role of interventions for preventing depression after stroke is unclear. Depression is a common and important complication of stroke that is often missed or poorly managed. Little is known about whether treatment started early after stroke will reduce the risk of depression and improve recovery. This review of 14 trials, involving 1515 participants, found no evidence that antidepressant drugs prevent depression or improve physical recovery after stroke. Two trials showed that psychological therapy could improve patients' mood and prevent depression, but did not improve other outcomes. The generalisability of these findings to all stroke survivors is limited due to the small proportion of survivors who are eligible to participate in these clinical trials. More well-designed clinical trials are needed that test practical interventions for preventing depression across all stroke survivors.