"Many research studies, including my own earlier publications, have focused on post-stroke depression and suicidal thoughts. This is a paradigm shift to examine stroke survivors who are mentally flourishing," said Esme Fuller-Thomson, lead author of the study.
"Our definition of 'complete mental health' sets a very high bar, requiring that respondents were happy and/or satisfied with their life on an almost daily basis and that they were free of suicidal thoughts, substance dependence, depression and anxiety disorder for the past year," Fuller-Thomson added.
This study shed new light on factors associated with complete mental health among stroke survivors. Having a confidant and being free of chronic pain were important predictors. In contrast, a history of childhood maltreatment and a lifetime history of mental illness decreased one's likelihood of achieving complete mental health after a stroke.
"One of our most exciting findings was the fact that stroke survivors with at least one confidant were four times more likely to be in complete mental health in comparison to those who were socially isolated. This suggests targeted interventions for socially isolated and lonely patients may be particularly helpful in optimising well-being after a stroke," said co-author Lisa A. Jenson.
The researchers found that stroke survivors with chronic and disabling pain had much lower odds of complete mental health.
"It appears that childhood adversities cast a very long shadow over many, many decades," Fuller-Thomson added.
According to the researchers, the stroke survivors who had a history of childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse or chronic parental domestic violence were only half as likely to be in complete mental health in comparison to those without these childhood traumas.
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