Health Team

Study shows some stroke survivors suffer PTSD

Posted June 21, 2013

Most people associate post-traumatic stress disorder with soldiers who come back from war. Now more research shows suffering a serious medical scare like a stroke can lead to PTSD.

Peter Cornelis took up painting to help him focus after having six strokes and brain surgery.

“You’re always worried about having it happen again,” he said.

Cornelis now suffers from depression and anxiety. Doctors have diagnosed the 62-year-old with PTSD.

A new study from Columbia University Medical Center shows one in four people who survive a stroke suffer symptoms of PTSD within the first year. The study also found one in nine stroke survivors still experienced chronic PTSD more than a year later.

“Patients have a lot of re-experiencing of the event, which are things like having nightmares or flashbacks or just having lots of thoughts about having had the stroke that they don't really want to be having,” said Dr. Ian Kronish, study author at Colombia University Medical Center.

Kronish said doctors need be on the lookout for signs of depression, anxiety and PTSD in their stroke patients so they can get the treatment they need.

It's been a long road for Cornelis. He was paralyzed after brain surgery and still struggles with headaches, memory and speech problems. He's getting help from a psychologist and medication.

Kornish said it’s important for patients and their families to seek a doctor’s attention if they are having a lot of trouble coping with a stroke.

“Life is still good, life gets better, even with the symptoms of PTSD, if you can get up every day and just feel good about the day,” Cornelis said.

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  • survivorx2 Jun 26, 2013

    I personally have known for a long time that cancer survivors also sometimes suffer from PTSD related symptoms. I find this especially true when there is a recurrence and/or more than one cancer.