My husband had a stroke and now makes no effort to improve. What can I do?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband suffered a stroke 2 years ago. I can't get him to go out to see friends. The only places he will go is to therapy and to his doctor's appointment. He refuses to exercise and is always complaining how stiff his left side is. He can walk with the aid of a walker, but other than that, he does nothing but eat, sit and watch tv and sleep. I am his only caregiver and by me working, going to school and caring for him, my plate is rather full. I know that he is in a state of depression and he refuses to seek help. What can I do? I am at the point of leaving him if he continue to refuse treatment.

Expert Answer

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

Sorry to hear about your situation. I would agree with you that it sounds like he is in a depression, and that he needs help. I would ask friends and relatives of his to help you convince him that he needs help. Perhaps a trip to his regular doctor, after you call his doctor to express your thoughts, might be helpful to get him started on an anti-depressant. That would be a good first step. Often, I find that convincing a patient to see a Psychiatrist right away is more difficult - comes with a stigma and the patient is resistant. However, if his regular doctor can get him started on an anti-depressant and then later convinces him to see a Psychiatrist, that may work out best. Of course, if he is having any suicidal thoughts, then you would need to seek the help of a Psychiatrist immediately.

Overall, depression works against the patient very much in the effort to improve after stroke. I agree with you that this issue needs to be aggressively addressed.

Good luck!