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Diet drinks cause higher risk of STROKES, doctor reveals

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Research put forward by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, found that one in three patients recovering from a stroke suffer from depression for up to 10 years after the original brain attack.

Current medical intervention involves working with psychiatrists to see if depression can be reduced using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

The NHS listed signs of depression:

  • Continuous low mood or sadness
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling tearful
  • Feeling guilt-ridden
  • Feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • Having no motivation or interest in things
  • Finding it difficult to make decisions
  • Not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • Feeling anxious or worried
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself.

There can be physical manifestations of depression too, including:

  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • Changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
  • Constipation
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Lack of energy
  • Low sex drive (loss of libido)
  • Changes to your menstrual cycle
  • Disturbed sleep – for example, drug side effects lamictal finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning.

Depression can also cause “social symptoms”, such as:

  • Avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities
  • Neglecting your hobbies and interests
  • Having difficulties in your home, work or family life.

CBT

Defined as a “talking therapy”, CBT is based on the notion that thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected.

Instead of focusing on issues from the past, CBT focuses on the here and now.

Each session can range from half hour to 60 minutes, with the course of treatment usually lasting between five to 20 sessions.

Working with a therapist, unrealistic or unhelpful thoughts, feelings and behaviours will be addressed.

These unrealistic or unhelpful patterns will then be challenged, opening the way for more helpful behaviours.

“The eventual aim of therapy is to teach you to apply the skills you have learnt during treatment to your daily life,” the NHS explained.

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A GP is able to refer you to attend CBT therapy, or private sessions are available at a price.

Private CBT sessions can range from £40 to £100; if you choose to go for this route, make sure the therapist is accredited by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP).

The Stroke Association – which has funded research at Guy’s and St Thomas’ since 1988 – pointed out that having a stroke raises your risk of having another one.

Certain medical conditions also increase a person’s risk of stroke, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • High cholesterol.

Moreover, certain lifestyle choices have a “big impact” on having another stroke.

This includes smoking, drinking too much alcohol, being overweight, and eating unhealthy foods.

Such factors “can damage your blood vessels, increase your blood pressure, and make your blood more likely to clot”.

In order to minimise the risk of another stroke, it’s critical to:

  • Be a non-smoker
  • Practise teetotalism
  • Exercise regularly to achieve or maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a varied and healthy diet.

The charity pointed out the importance of taking any prescribed medication in order to help manage your risk of another stroke.

“Never stop taking your medication without talking to your GP first,” the Stroke Association made clear.

If you’re experiencing bothersome side effects, discussing them with your doctor may lead to you being offered another alternative, but effective, medication.

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