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More than half of patients develop depression following stroke. New research suggests that they may benefit from starting antidepressant therapy before depression sets in.


The study included 176 patients ages 50 to 90 who'd recently experienced an acute stroke. None of the patients were depressed at the start of the study. One-third of them took the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro), another third took a placebo, and the final third participated in talk therapy focused on problem-solving skills.


After 1 year, about 9% of those who took escitalopram had developed depression, compared with 22% who took a placebo and 12% who received talk therapy. The patients who took the antidepressant were 4.5 times less likely to develop depression than those who took a placebo. Talk therapy didn't achieve significant results over placebo.


Source: Robinson RG, et al., Escitalopram and problem-solving therapy for prevention of poststroke depression, JAMA, May 28, 2008.