Why does behaviour change after a stroke?
The way we behave often depends on the way we feel. So if your emotions change after stroke, then your behaviour is likely to change too.
But it’s not just about the way we feel. Sometimes a stroke can also affect the way you respond to what’s going on around you. This can make you behave differently too.
Other effects of stroke will also affect your behaviour. Tiredness can mean you’re less active or talkative, for example. Or frustration at not being able to do things for yourself can build up and make you aggressive towards others.
In what ways can behaviour change?
It’s difficult to see changes in yourself. So, if you’re acting differently your friends and family are probably going to be the ones to notice.
These are some changes that other people may notice:
- you get cross or annoyed very quickly
- you’re more stressed, angry or aggressive
- you’ve become withdrawn and don’t talk very much
- you don’t show any interest in the things you used to enjoy
- you make decisions without considering what will happen afterwards
- you’re less inhibited, which can make you more outspoken or seem self-centred and can also change your sexual behaviour.
People may tell you that your personality has changed or that you’ve ‘become a different person’, which can be upsetting.
Does it get better?
It’s normal for your behaviour to change in some way after a stroke. But it is likely to get better over time.
Even if changes are long term, this isn’t always a problem. Some people think that if you’re behaving differently, then this needs to be ‘fixed’. But it depends on the way your behaviour has changed.
If your behaviour isn’t hurting others then the people around you may just need some time to get used to it. However, if you’re being aggressive or acting inappropriately, then you do need to do something about it.
Are there treatments that can help?
Dealing with behaviour changes after a stroke is more about learning how to manage them, rather than curing or ‘fixing’ them.
Sometimes changes in your behaviour are caused by emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety. These may be helped by medication or therapy.