How should we deal with my dad's anxiety attacks after his stroke?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Since my father's stroke, he's made a lot of progress physically. But at night, he's been waking up very frightened and anxious. He has apraxia, so he can't tell us what's going on, but he seems to be in a state of real panic. What could be causing these attacks and what can we do to help him?

Expert Answer

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

A stroke is a very stressful and scary event; anxiety after a stroke is common, and some people even suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. It sounds like your father is suffering from anxiety and might benefit greatly from the help of a professional, either a psychiatrist or psychologist. Keep in mind that his inability to speak does not necessarily mean that he doesn't understand what's being said to him, so counseling from a mental health professional can be quite helpful. Both medication and non-medical treatment would likely be very helpful regardless of your father's language disability.