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Antidepressants may help stroke survivors

5th March 2007

People who have suffered a stroke could improve their thinking skills by taking antidepressants, according to a new study.

Research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found stroke survivors could boost their cognitive abilities, as well as their mood, by taking the drugs.

"We found that people diagnosed with stroke who often have a decline in 'executive function', that is, those mental abilities that enable us to respond appropriately to unfamiliar or complex situations," said lead author Sergio Paradiso, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

The study also found they could "support several cognitive, emotional and social capacities, [patients] showed improvement after receiving a 12-week treatment with antidepressants", according to Dr Paradiso.

He added: "Drugs such as antibiotics start working right away to kill germs.

"However, antidepressants may be reorganising brain structure and re-establishing neuronal connections that were lost because of the death of neurons due to the stroke."

The study was based on 47 patients who had had a stroke in the past six months and involved studying neuropsychological after 12 weeks and two years.