Do stroke patients have personality changes


If your loved ones are experiencing forgetfulness, personality changes, anger, anxiety, and depression after a stroke, you are not alone, and this article is for you! Do stroke patients have personality changes? Most doctors believe so.

It is known that strokes can cause personality changes and mood disorders. The type of changes a patient may experience depends on where the brain is damaged during the stroke. Decreased attention, forgetfulness, mood swings, crying and laughing out loud, depression or anxiety can occur after a stroke.

Although these changes are more common after brain stroke, they could be seen after heart stroke as well.


Types of personality changes after stroke

Post Stroke Depression (PSD)

How long do the behavioral and personality changes last?



Types of personality changes expected after the stroke

Most stroke survivors usually experience some kind of behavioral or personality changes over time. This is understandable as the brain is the organ responsible for understanding, feelings, remembering, and our personal characteristics. Therefore, it is not unexpected that following the injury of certain parts of the brain during a stroke, personal behavior, feelings, and personality changes happen.

The followings are the most common psychological and personality disorders that could be seen in patients after strokes:



Following a brain damage, inhibitory signals in brain’s anger management centers may be disturbed and the patient may lose his or her ability to control anger easily like before. Thus, anger and aggression are among the most common personality changes that occur following a stroke.


Neglect (right or left neglect):

During this complication, the person becomes oblivious to things that are on one side of his body.

This disorder often occurs in brain strokes that have damaged the right half of the brain, and therefore the person does not care about everything happening on the left side of his body. It is because of the fact that one side of our brain controls the movement of the opposite site of our body. Here are some examples of this disorder:

The person does not touch the food on half of a plate at all, because he or she does not notice the presence of food in that half. As another example, the patient may not read half of the pages of the book at all. As you can imagine, allowing these patients to drive can lead to a very catastrophic accident.

To improve this situation, the cooperation and support of the family is very critical. You, as the relatives of the person who has this condition, can help the patient by encouraging him or her to pay more and more attention to the neglected side, and by constantly working or playing with the patient with the focus on the neglected side.



This complication is usually seen in strokes in which the right hemisphere of the brain or the frontal lobe is damaged.

In this disorder, the person is not able to completely understand the results and consequences of the action he or she is taking. For example, he or she may start answering the question even before the question has been completed.



Stroke can also cause secondary problems raising anxiety and stress. For example, a person may be too much worried about work and income, or may be concerned or too sensitive about the development of problems with his or her balance, speech etc.

Depression and anxiety are sometimes associated with each other and it is crucial to treat them properly.


Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA):

Sometimes a person experiences an unusual, sudden, uncontrolled and exaggerated feeling of emotion, causing him or her to suddenly start laughing or crying involuntarily. 

This type of emotional instability is called pseudobulbar affect, which is usually accompanied and associated by strange and unreasonable cries. In this behavioral change caused by a brain stroke, those parts of the brain that were responsible for controlling emotion are damaged. Note that in these cases, usually you cannot stop a person by encouraging him or her to stop crying or laughing.

In these situations, be patient and ask them how they would like to receive help and feedback from you on these special occasions. Some people would like the audience to just stay in touch without any particular reaction.

Be sure to tell your doctor about your emotional instability and seek help from your doctor. Fortunately, most emotional instabilities will improve over time.


Post stroke depression (PSD):

The most common personality, mood and emotional change occurring after a stroke is depression.

Thirty to sixty percent of people develop depression after a stroke. Even after overcoming the medical and physical disorders and problems of a stroke attack, a person can still experience mild to severe symptoms of depression during recovery and rehabilitation.

Diagnosis of post-stroke depression (PSD) is very important, and this complication must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Failure to treat PSD prolongs the rehabilitation period of the stroke.


Post stroke depression (PSD) symptoms:


The signs and symptoms of post-stroke depression are very variable and may be misleading. The PSD is diagnosed over time and mostly with the help of patient’s relatives or babysitters.

It is very important to pay special attention to the following symptoms in a person with stroke:

  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Slowness of behaviors and reactions
  • Persistent grief
  • Feeling empty and unimportant
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of proper response to emotional stimuli
  • Being hopeless
  • Sleep disorders
  • Decreased motivation
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Appetite changes
  • Constantly talking about death
  • Having suicidal idea

If you see more than five of the above symptoms in a person for more than two weeks, be sure to inform patient’s doctor.


How long do the behavioral and personality changes last?

Most of the changes mentioned in this article will not be permanent. For example, post-stroke depression or PSD can be treated, with the help of medication, rehabilitation team and constant family support.

In people with impulsiveness or people with inappropriate behaviors, behavioral interventions will be very helpful. For example, talk to the patient regularly and remind them that he or she may make inappropriate and hurtful movements. Put a guard around their beds and chairs to reduce the risk of falling, any abnormal movements or injury. Remember that keeping the patient in bed to rest all the times does not help.

Try to get involved and stay active in patient’s social life and relationship with the support of hos of her specialist, friends and other support groups. These supports and involvements have the greatest impact on a person's well-being and treating the psychological problems following the stroke. They also keep the mind active and help the remaining parts of the brain to do the jobs of the injured parts.



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