Post-stroke depression and apathy: Interactions between functional recovery, lesion location, and emotional response


Dr Seiji Hama, MD, PhD, Department of Rehabilitation, Hibino Hospital, Tomo 7955, Numata-cho, Asaminami-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima 731-3161, Japan. Email:


Depression and apathy are often observed after stroke and are often confused with one another. In the present review, we argue that the current concept of ‘post-stroke depression’ (PSD) in fact consists of two core symptoms or syndromes: (i) affective (depressive) PSD; and (ii) apathetic PSD. We argue that these two core symptoms are each associated with a different underlying neuroanatomical mechanism, a pattern that influences functional recovery. Post-stroke disabilities can provoke several distinct emotional responses, some of which are associated with severe depression. We examined one of these emotional responses previously, namely ‘insistence on recovery’, which was believed to be a negative indicator of functional improvement in disabled stroke patients. However, an appropriate level of insistence on recovery may, in fact, be associated with reduced depression and apathy, resulting in enhanced recovery from stroke-related disabilities. Improvements in physical disabilities (trunk stability or activities of daily living, such as walking) also reduce depression and apathy. Therefore, the experience of PSD/apathy may be intertwined with various initial emotional responses and improvements in physical functioning. Effective treatment of PSD/apathy requires a multidisciplinary approach, such that neuroanatomical/neurobiological, emotional, and physical (rehabilitation) domains are all addressed.