Over the years, speech therapy and physical therapy have been the main treatments for stroke recovery. Speech and physical therapy can be very effective in helping stroke victims to regain coordination and communication. Recently, some promising studies have been done that show that citalopram (Celexa) and other types of SSRI antidepressants may help speed recovery. Before getting into how these medications work for stroke recovery, it is important to note that recognizing a stroke when it starts happening and getting medical attention immediately is the best way improve the outcome.
Signs of a Stroke
It is difficult for a person to communicate that they are having a stroke since they often cause confusion and trouble with speech. A person suffering from a stroke may not be able to dial a phone or tell others what they are feeling. That’s why it’s best that everyone in your family understands and recognizes the signs of a stroke:
- Feeling weak or numb on one side of the body
- Lack of coordination
- Trouble speaking
- Difficulty comprehending speech
- Severe headache
Simple ways to determine whether or not someone else is having a stroke include asking them to smile or to raise both arms. If they are only able to smile with one side of the face, lift one arm while the other drifts downward, you can be pretty certain the person is having a stroke. Another obvious sign is slurred speech. If you notice someone suffering from these symptoms, call 911. The faster a stroke victim gets medical attention, the faster the clot can be dissolved or the bleeding in the brain can be stopped to prevent further brain damage.
Antidepressants & Stroke Recovery
Stroke victims must learn how to communicate and do simple activities all over again. They may not be able to take care of themselves for a long time, and this can obviously result in depression for some people. About one out of three stroke patients suffer from depression and depression can sabotage rehabilitation by destroying a person’s motivation to participate and push themselves to keep trying.
However, citalopram and other SSRIs don’t only help with improving mood and giving patients the motivation to participate in rehab activities. There is mounting evidence that they may also enhance neurological recovery. A study was conducted by two neurologists at the Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. They analyzed 56 clinical trials of SSRIs on stroke victims and discovered that these medications seem to have helped enhance neurological repair, decrease dependency and disability through motor recovery, and improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. The doctors say that larger studies are needed to determine the full extent of the efficacy of these medications before routinely recommending them to stroke patients.
Despite the studies that still need to be done to fully determine the efficacy of SSRIs in stroke recovery, many doctors will still recommend drugs like citalopram and fluoxetine to help stroke victims with depression.