Why is my mother so angry and abusive after her stroke?

10 answers | Last updated: Oct 17, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...
My mother had a stroke almost a year ago. She's doing well physically, but she's acting very angry and abusive toward me. Will I ever get my mother back, or is this as good as it's going to get?

Expert Answers

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

If your mother's stroke involved the part of the brain responsible for behavior, you may be in for a rough road ahead. Generally, most of the improvement after a stroke is within the first six months, but improvement can continue for up to two years.

I'd recommend taking your mom to see a psychiatrist with experience in stroke cases before you give up hope. Your mother may be suffering from post-stroke depression or other issues that may be reversible with professional help.


Community Answers

Ca-claire answered...

While a psychiatrist may be very helpful in the case of depression, I found that a Neuropsychologist did the best for my husband. My husband's stroke was in his frontal lobe (he's amidextrous, so it really messed him up), and he has impaired judgement and impulse control difficulties. While 2 years seems to be the party line for stroke recovery - I still see changes and it's over 3 years now. Just continue to challenge the stroke patient, and the recovery will continue. Don't give up hope - just realize that your mother has changed in a way that was other than her choice.


Jade1961 answered...

I am a stroke survivor. Unbeknown to me I was apparently very violent towards both my husband and my son after the stroke. I had very good care both in the hospital and through the various therapists that came to my home to help me. I ended up seeing a Neuro-psychologist at some point and it did not seem to be the answer for my personal experience. My stroke affected my Frontal & Parietal lobes of my brain. Perhaps this is the difference. I am now 4 years post stroke. I still have difficulty swallowing & feeding myself (mostly due to the swallowing) and I have some trouble with my hands throwing things when I don't want them to. I find it hard to believe, I was a Physician Assistant Certified in Alaska & Pennsylvania for over 20 years and the Stroke ended that, so did the cancer that followed. I guess what I am trying to say is your Mom is in there. She will come out eventually. Everyone recovers at their own rate, some of us fully some not. But the Anger issue should dissipate with the proper treatment. You love her & she loves you. Always remember that and reinforce it. I actually got so tired of hearing my son & Hubby tell me how much they loved me but it helped me want to heal more quickly. I wish your Mom well and yourself too. I will keep you in my prayers. Know that Above any of the Physicians, Nurses, PT, OT and other specialists your Mom might see in the end it is God who can make her whole. He is still working on me ..... God Be with you both. Jade


New maxc answered...

At the young age of 59..I had a stroke..I am 61 now..it was a live changing experiance..for the better..I now enjoy all of life joys.. the changes..are .. move you body.. listing to music..calling old .. friends.. and a New grandson..I am learing to speak spanish..and Reading about new medical news about,Stroks,..Keeping encouranging your mom,,try making laugh,,give her a big kiss evey day,, and more hugs..lots of hugs..pray for her..lots..New Maxc


A fellow caregiver answered...

I had a stroke 6 years ago which destroyed basically the entire right side of my brain. I was very lucky physically and mentally as far as residual deficits go. But, I have found that I do get frustrated easily. I would suggest to the caregivers that they listen to their tone of voice. Nothing bothers me more than to be patronized. For example, my wife will say something 'i'm sorry you had a stroke, but you just can't do blank." So every argument or discussion ends this way. To me, she is basically saying I am incompetent.


Solmiles answered...

I have had 2 strokes to the left occipital lobe of my brain, due to a birth defect called a PFO, which is a hole in my heart. The first stroke happened at age 18, and the second stroke happened at age 35. I have partial blindness and difficulty doing math now. I have bouts of uncontrolled anger and temper, and have a hard time controlling my temper. I wasn't like that before my strokes. I also have a seizure disorder from the brain damage, and my neurologist suggests that my tempers come from the seizure activity, and are part of a seizure prodome.


Kaska answered...

Hello. I have just suffered my first stroke five months ago. My life was completely independant prire to it. I feel rather angry myself, just based on the shere lack of personal abilities I suddenly have lost!

Your mom can't control the outbursts, be it in anger, Violance, or tears without Medical attention. Also, it is verry hard to explain to you her feelings, which ads to the upset.

Give her time, love, and lots of chances to just recover for one more day.


A fellow caregiver answered...

HI there, I am a stroke survivor who had a massive stroke on Dec 05,2013, and a second stroke on Dec 08,02013. Six days of will she live or die. Im a fighter and was made aware of what happened as they moved me from theCCU to acute rehap. completely paralyzed on my left side ( im left handed by the way),and a 1 finger typer, lol!
I was up and walking in 2-weeks. To Jade and others in this forum, God raised me up off of my death bed as he breathe life into me whenit looked like there was no hope and for that I am eternally grateful! However I have terrible anger issues. Not because of what happed but because I am dependent on others for help, I get sick of people saying Im feeling sorry for myself. People just don't get it I was an insurance professional for over 20 years prior to the stroke never needing anything from anyone. Now the very basic needs of getting my hair combed is more than I can deal with. I DONT WANT Help! I need it. My family just wants me on anti-depression meds and I try to explain im not depressed Im angry!


A fellow caregiver answered...

My mother became very violent towards me after she had a stroke now I suffered a stroke just two years ago and I find I can't get mad about anything. Drivers don't make me cross nothing really does


A fellow caregiver answered...

My father-in-law had a stroke about 5 years ago with some pretty significant physical deficits which he started working at dealing with right away. About 2 months after that he experienced a second stroke which affected his personality, and he became a totally different person. While he's coherent and cognizant, he is easily and irrationally irritated and quick to fly into fits of anger. Even now, 5 years post stroke, he's unreasonably cantankerous and the slightest thing - even something as simple as making a cup of tea - will send him into a rage.

Reading some of the support sites make me a bit angry myself, as there are a lot of "hang in there" and "be patient and supportive, it will get better." I've been looking into post-stroke aggression and anger and the research says that in about 20-30% of the cases it doesn't get better on its own. There's evidence that there's a chemical imbalance in some patients that causes anger that surpasses the frustration that comes with the change in abilities. While many people will adapt and "get over it", many won't, though there's evidence that there can be improvement with pharmaceutical intervention, and that anti-depressants actually are more effective in improving post-stroke anger than they are at post-stroke depression.

Your words of encouragement are nice, but for those who are dealing with the personality transformations that come with post-stroke aggression the "hang in there, it gets better" comments fall short. See your doctor. Talk about SSRIs. Look for other solutions - Because it sucks. A lot.