J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 64:371-374 doi:10.1136/jnnp.64.3.371
  • Short report

Depression and its relation to lesion location after stroke

  1. Siobhan M MacHalea,
  2. Suzanne J O’Rourkeb,
  3. Joanna M Wardlawb,
  4. Martin S Dennisb
  1. aRoyal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh EH10 5HF, UK, bDepartment of Clinical Neurosciences, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK
  1. Dr S M MacHale, Department of Psychological Medicine, The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9YW, UK.
  • Received 1 May 1997
  • Revised 26 August 1997
  • Accepted 28 August 1997


The study of discrete organic cerebral lesions resulting in clearly definable psychiatric disorders may provide an understanding of the underlying patho-physiological basis of these disorders. However, the relation between lesion location and psychiatric illness after stroke remains unclear. Fifty five patients referred to hospital were identified who had a single lesion on CT which was consistent with their neurological presentation and who did not have evidence of a persistent affective disorder at the time of the stroke. Six months after stroke standardised psychiatric assessment disclosed that 26% of the patients met DSM-IV criteria for an anxiety or depressive disorder, with depression the most common diagnosis (20%). Pathological emotionalism was diagnosed in 18% of patients, particularly those who were depressed (p<0.0001). Depression was significantly associated with larger lesions involving the right cerebral hemisphere (p=0.01). The importance of depression as a consequence of stroke has been clarified by the studies in this area. However, wide confidence intervals support the possibility that significant results may be due to chance. A systematic review of these studies is now needed if a consensus is to be reached.


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