Quick Study

Antidepressant drug may aid in restoring cognitive functions after a stroke

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Antidepressant may aid in restoring cognitive functions.

THE QUESTION Might taking an antidepressant help people regain their memory and thinking skills after a stroke?

THIS STUDY involved 129 people whose average age was in the 60s, who had no history of depression and who had had a mild to moderate stroke for the first time no more than three months before enrolling in the study. They were randomly assigned to take the antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram) or a placebo daily or to participate in therapy designed to improve cognitive skills. A year later, the antidepressant group had higher scores, on average, on standardized tests of cognitive function, especially memory, than either the placebo or therapy groups. They also were doing better on day-to-day activities.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? People who have had a stroke, which occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, leaving it short of the nutrients it needs. Memory loss and difficulty understanding things are common after a stroke. About 700,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year.

CAVEATS The findings might not apply to people who have had a more severe stroke.

FIND THIS STUDY February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

LEARN MORE ABOUT stroke at http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders and http://www.stroke.org.

-- Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.

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