Coping and support

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A stroke is a life-changing event that can affect your emotional well-being as much as your physical function. You may experience feelings of helplessness, frustration, depression and apathy. You may also have mood changes and less of a sex drive.

Maintaining your self-esteem, connections to others and interest in the world are essential parts of your recovery. Several strategies may help you and your caregivers, including:

  • Don't be hard on yourself. Accept that physical and emotional recovery will involve tough work and that it will take time. Aim for a "new normal," and celebrate your progress. Allow time for rest.
  • Get out of the house even if it's hard. Try not to be discouraged or self-conscious if you move slowly and need a cane, walker or wheelchair to get around. Getting out is good for you.
  • Join a support group. Meeting with others who are coping with a stroke lets you get out and share experiences, exchange information, and forge new friendships.
  • Let friends and family know what you need. People may want to help, but they may not know what to do. Let them know how they can help, such as by bringing over a meal and staying to eat with you and talk, or attending social events or religious activities.
  • Know that you are not alone. Nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke every year. Approximately every 40 seconds someone has a stroke in the United States.

Communication challenges

One of the most frustrating effects of stroke is that it can affect your speech and language. Here are some tips to help you and your caregivers cope with communication challenges:

  • Practice will help. Try to have a conversation at least once a day. It will help you learn what works best for you, feel connected and rebuild your confidence.
  • Relax and take your time. Talking may be easiest and most enjoyable in a relaxing situation when you have plenty of time. Some stroke survivors find that after dinner is a good time.
  • Say it your way. When you're recovering from a stroke, you may need to use fewer words, rely on gestures or use your tone of voice to communicate.
  • Use props and communication aids. You may find it helpful to use cue cards showing frequently used words, pictures of close friends and family members, or daily activities, such as a favorite television show or the bathroom.
Apr. 15, 2014