Changes in Thinking, Behavior and Mood After Stroke

A stroke can change the way a person thinks, behaves and feels. You may not notice these changes as much as physical changes, but they can affect how well your loved one is able to manage.

Changes in thinking, feeling and behaving depend on:

  • Type and severity of stroke
  • Which area of the brain has been injured
  • How recently the stroke happened

Thinking and Behaviour

Below are common changes to thinking and behaving you may see and how to help:

Changes in paying attention and concentrating

  • Reduce distractions
  • Talk slowly

Confusion or difficulty remembering information

  • Write information down
  • Keep a routine

Poor judgement or impulsivity

  • Supervise tasks
  • Encourage slowing down

Mismatch of feelings and outward show of emotions

  • Check if they are feeling the emotion being expressed 

Mood and Behaviour

Mood changes are a normal reaction to a major life change. Up to half of all people who have had a stroke will have some degree of depression.

Common Changes:

  • Lack of motivation or interest
  • Anger, frustration or irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

What You May See:

  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Headaches, chronic pain, digestive problems
  • Feeling worthless
  • Constant and overwhelming worry or fear
  • Withdrawing from people/events
  • Trouble sleeping

If you are concerned you or your loved one may be experiencing changes in mood, tell a health care professional right away. Treatment includes medication and counselling:

  • Ask your doctor what medication is right for you
  • Continue to talk to your care providers, friends and family about how you’re feeling
  • Try to get proper rest and meals
  • Trial deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques
  • Explore local support groups and services. For more information on services in your area visit or

Some stroke survivors have no change in the way they think, behave or feel, while others have significant change in one or more areas. Each survivor is unique.

It is important to remember you are not alone in how you feel.

As you begin your stroke recovery journey, you will have good days and bad days. However, with the proper support and treatment, together you can improve your recovery and life after a stroke.


The Central South Regional Stroke Network would like to acknowledge the Central South Regional Stroke Network Patient and Family Advisory Council, The Central South Regional Stroke Passport Working Group, Hamilton Health Sciences, our hospital and community stroke service provider partners, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation for their contributions to the development of this website.



The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always see the advice of your physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

The information contained in this website is by no means a complete listing of the programs or services available. The Central South Regional Stroke Network does not endorse or support the information contained within the links to external sites, nor can we assume responsibility for the accuracy of the information. The mention of products and services should not be assumed to be an endorsement of any kind.