Stroke: Changes in Emotions

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Topic Overview

Emotional reactions after a stroke may be different from normal emotional reactions.

  • The reaction may have little or no obvious connection with what is happening around the person.
  • Often reactions can be easily interrupted by diverting the person's attention.

People who have had a stroke—usually in the front part of the brain or in the brain stem—can lose emotional control and may switch from crying to laughing for no apparent reason.

  • Crying is the most frequent problem.
  • Medicine may be needed to help control emotional responses.

Crying can also be a symptom of depression, which is a medical condition that often gets better with treatment. Untreated depression can interfere with recovery. And it can have a big impact on how much a person enjoys life.

People who have had a stroke may act differently because they feel isolated and have vision problems. They may:

  • Become irritable, confused, or restless.
  • Sometimes have false beliefs (delusions).
  • Have hallucinations.

This is more likely to occur when someone has to stay in bed for long periods of time. And it is more likely to be a problem at night. A radio playing softly in the bedroom or a dim light beside the bed may be helpful during the night.

If you notice that your loved one has a sudden change in emotion or mental state, it may be delirium. For delirium, the person may need medical care.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRichard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014