Background: Poststroke depression (PSD) is common after stroke; however, the relationship to poststroke function is inconclusive. Our objectives were to 1) determine the relationship between PSD at baseline (1 month poststroke) and function (12 weeks later) and 2) assess the impact of depression improvement on 12-week function among those with depression at baseline.
Methods: We completed a secondary analysis of data from a cohort study of participants with and without PSD. We used logistic regression to identify factors associated with 12-week functional dependence for 1) all 367 participants and 2) the 174 participants with PSD.
Results: In the PSD cohort, 3 characteristics were found to be independently associated with 12-week dependence: increased medical comorbidity (odds ratio [OR] 1.10, 95%confidence interval [CI] 1.02-1.22), increased stroke severity (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.19-1.69), and increased baseline depression severity (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.03-1.23). Depression severity was significantly different between those considered dependent and independent at 12 weeks (entire cohort, PHQ-9 7.31 vs 5.18, p = 0.008; depressed cohort, PHQ-9 9.94 vs 7.27, p = 0.019).
Conclusion: Among study participants with PSD, the severity of depression symptoms at baseline was associated with dependence; however, our results are inconclusive as to whether improvement of depression is independently associated with functional recovery at 12 weeks. Even if the treatment and improvement of PSD does not directly influence functional recovery poststroke, it is essential for PSD to be identified and treated due to its high symptom burden and association with other negative health and social outcomes.