Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Joyce Kootker (Donders series 328)

29 June 2018

Promotor: prof. dr. S. Geurts, prof dr. L Fasotti; Prof dr Caroline van Heugten
Co-promotor: dr. S. Rasquin

Depressive symptoms after stroke: risk factors and treatment

Post-stroke depressive symptoms are common in the chronic phase of stroke and have a negative impact on rehabilitation, social reintegration, and quality of life. We investigated whether psychological factors contributed to the probability of depressive complaints one year after stroke. Early depression, stroke severity, stroke location and neuroticism were indicated as risk factors. These psychological factors contributed to our idea that a psychological approach to treatment should be investigated. As there were no ‘state of the art’ treatment options for this patient group, we conducted a randomized controlled trial where a new, augmented cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) protocol for the treatment of post-stroke depressive symptoms was tested on its effectiveness. Patients showed a decrease of depression complaints for the CBT group and the control group (computerised cognitive training). Yet, their caregivers showed small improvements if patients attended the CBT group in that they worried less and experienced better mental health. Also, from an economical perspective, the CBT group was slightly favourable.