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Can J Psychiatry. 2003 May;48(4):250-7.

Effect of depression on stroke morbidity and mortality.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta.



This narrative review examines the evidence and discusses the clinical relevance of depression as a risk factor for stroke morbidity and mortality. It also proposes recommendations for future research.


We used the Medline computer database to search the relevant original studies published in English from January 1966 to December 2001. Our key words were as follows: depressive disorder, cerebrovascular disease, stroke, vascular risk factors, and mortality. Articles that investigated the relation between antecedent depression and subsequent stroke morbidity and mortality were collected and reviewed.


Since 1990, 8 prospective studies have been published. Among these 8 studies, 6 addressed depression and stroke morbidity, 1 investigated the association of depression with stroke morbidity and stroke mortality, and 1 investigated the association with stroke mortality only. Of 7 studies examining the independent effect of depression on stroke morbidity, 6 were positive. With regard to stroke mortality, 2 studies found an independent association between depression and specific stroke mortality. The contributions and methodological limitations of these studies are discussed.


Emerging data suggest an association between depressive symptoms and increased risk for stroke morbidity and mortality. More methodologically sound studies are needed to elucidate causal pathways that link depression and cerebrovascular disease. They are also needed to determine the effect of depression intervention on reducing the risk of cerebrovascular events. Information on author affiliations appears at the end of the article.

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