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Friday, September 5, 2008

More than five miles at a time: Recovering from post-stroke depression

Now more than a year and a half after her stroke, 38-year-old Dira Cannistraro continues to recover from her life-altering experience.

"A few months after my stroke, I began struggling with some of the emotional side effects,""says Dira. "The emotional reaction astonished me considering how well I recovered. Since then, I have learned that post-stroke depression is quite common due to brain trauma and biochemical changes. I would like to make people who have had a stroke and their families aware that they should be on the lookout for symptoms of depression. I also want people to know it is a very common reaction to stroke. This has been an unexpected complication but I've found various ways to help alleviate the symptoms."

Emotional and physical health has become a priority for Dira. Through therapy and exercise, she is feeling more like herself again. She started running just a few months after her stroke and completed the Falmouth Road Race in August 2007, just eight months after the stroke.

"I had never run more than five miles at a time before in my life", says Dira. "Running became a way for me to regulate my emotions. I decided after Falmouth that I wanted to run a half marathon and I completed the Hyannis Half Marathon in February 2008."

Though the physical and emotional recovery process has been a long road, Dira continues to be thankful for all the good that has come from that situation. "There has definitely been an upside to the stroke. The outpouring of love and help from my family, friends, neighbors and my community has been so comforting and uplifting. People made meals, helped with the boys, even offered to walk my dog...it was really touching. I was also lucky to receive great care at Newton-Wellesley. The staff all were wonderful - I have even gone back to visit and thank them for their support and kindness during a difficult and frightening time of my life."

Advice: Exercise can help reduce post-stroke depression.

The anonymous source article appeared in the most recent Newton-Wellesley Hospital newsletter, Family HealthSource.

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