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How to manage changes in personality

Source: Luis_molinero on Freepik

Source: Luis_molinero on Freepik

Your personality is made up of how you feel, think and behave. Changes in personality may happen after a stroke. These changes will depend on where in the brain the stroke happened. You may notice changes in your:

 

What are some possible behaviour changes after stroke?

It may be hard for you to control how you act and/or interact with others.  

Do you sometimes find:

  • The way you act is not the way you feel? For example, you start to cry at a very funny story.
  • You have said something and not realized that it may have been upsetting to someone.
  • It is difficult to control mood swings. For example, you are having fun and laughing but very soon after you are upset and crying.
  • You find you often suddenly start crying and it is difficult to stop. This is called emotional lability.
  • You are not interested in doing things you used to love.

 

I'm experiencing all kinds of emotions, is this normal?

Along with behaviour changes, you may also feel:

emotionssmall.png

Anger.    

You ask yourself “Why me?”

You get angry at yourself because you are not as independent as you were.  You easily get angry at others for not understanding what you are going through. 

Anxiety.  

You worry a lot about the future.  You wonder if you will ever be the same again

Denial.  

You find it hard to admit you are having challenges

Embarrassed.    

You may feel ashamed of how you look.  You may feel embarrassed about needing help from others

Fear.    

You may be afraid of having another stroke.

Frustration.    

You easily give up or get angry because things that were once easy to do are now more difficult. 

Sadness.    

You are sad for the loss of your abilities and the dreams you had for yourself.

Guilt.  

You may feel you cannot provide for your family or support them.  You feel guilty asking for help. 

Loneliness.  

You feel alone because your family and friends don’t understand what you are going through.

 

Don’t give up hope.  The brain can rewire or reorganize itself by making new connections between brain cells after an injury such as a stroke.  This is called neuroplasticity.

 

Strategies for you 

  • Find a peer support group. Talking to other stroke survivors gives you a chance to share strategies and stories, give each other support and know that you are not alone.
  • Stay involved with your friends and family. You are still as important to them as they are to you.
  • Set goals. Start small, this gives you something to work towards. When you reach small goals you will have the confidence to set bigger goals.
  • Keep a journal or voice record your experiences. You can refer back to it to see how you are getting better. Write or talk about your successes and celebrate.
  • Stay as physically active as possible. Join activities in the community to help keep you active and positive.
  • Work together as a family and talk to your healthcare team to find strategies that work for you. For example, talk to your family and healthcare team about getting back to doing some of the things you enjoyed doing before your stroke.
  • Talk to your friends, family and healthcare team (for example, the Occupational Therapist) about the things that make you angry and/or frustrated so that you can work together to find solutions
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed with a task, stop and take a break. Ask for help if things are not going well.
  • Do one thing at a time
  • Do things you enjoy

 

 

Strategies for your caregiver

  • Helping the person to participate in life again is one of the most important things you can do
  • Ask them if the feelings they are showing on the outside match how they are feeling on the inside
  • Explain to them and family members that loss of emotional control is common after stroke
  • Learn the person’s preferences in daily routines. Follow them whenever possible.
  • Help them feel successful by alternating/switching between easy and more difficult tasks
  • Encourage the person to try again if an initial attempt to do something fails
  • Encourage positive behaviours
  • Your feedback can help the person recognize inappropriate behaviours. Clearly explain which behaviours are negative and why, then offer positive alternatives.
  • Avoid situations that require the person to make decisions beyond their capabilities