Poststroke Depression Screening: An Executive Summary

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Every year, 15 million people experience a stroke,1 making it the leading cause of death and disability worldwide.2 In the United States alone, there are at least 795 000 people who experience a stroke,3 and it is expected that 246 000 of those will experience some degree of depression.2 With depression being a major cause of disability worldwide and an estimated 30% of patients with stroke experiencing poststroke depression (PSD),2 one would assume that patients with stroke are routinely being screened for depression in our healthcare facilities. Sadly, however, this is not the case.2 Many patients with stroke are never screened for depression, and their moods are not assessed during hospitalization.2 This is contrary to the stroke standard because it is recommended to screen all patients with stroke for depression.
Depression is one of the most serious complications after a stroke and has been identified as a significant poststroke comorbidity for the past 2 decades.4 Yet, in the poststroke population, depression remains overlooked and untreated in clinical practice despite the high prevalence after a stroke.5 More than 50% of patients with stroke with depression suffer daily with the disorder because they are never given a diagnosis and treated.6 As neuroscience nurses, we often see patients who have been physically and mentally devastated by this disease. Our job, as patient advocates, is to screen patients with stroke for depression in a timely manner, providing the best care and quickest recovery possible. This executive summary addresses the researched evidence on the significance of PSD, guidelines, screening barriers, and screening tools.
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