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Thinking and behaviour after stroke

After a stroke it is common to find it difficult to concentrate or remember certain things. These are known as 'cognitive' changes and they happen because of damage to your brain.

You may find it difficult to:

  • Work something out
  • Find your way around
  • Remember what you were doing, how to do something or what someone just told you
  • Know how to respond to what's going on around you

Problems with memory and thinking can be very upsetting and are usually worse during the first few weeks and months after a stroke, but they can get better.

Stroke can also affect how you behave. For example, you may:

  • Become more emotional than usual
  • Experience extreme emotional reactions that are uncontrollable or out of context, for example laughing inappropriately, crying for no reason, uncontrolled swearing
  • Become angry or annoyed quickly
  • Become withdrawn and not want to socialise
  • Lose interest in things you enjoyed before
  • Become less inhibited

Other effects of stroke can affect your behaviour too. You may feel frustrated that you can't do the things you could do before and this can make you grumpy, angry or aggressive towards the people around you. Tiredness can make you irritable, less likely to socialise or less active.

It is normal for behaviour to change after a stroke. Over time it is likely to improve as you and your family learn how to manage these changes. If you feel that changes in behaviour have been caused by anxiety, low mood or depression then speak to your doctor about treatment such as therapy or medication.

See the CHSS factsheet Memory problems after a stroke (PDF) for more information about how your memory can be affected by a stroke.