A team of British researchers has found that giving antidepressants to patients recovering from stroke could help boost the recovery period by 'rebuilding' the brain.
According to researchers at the University of Edinburgh, the drugs could reduce dependence, physical disability, depression and anxiety in the first year after a stroke.
They could also promote the growth of new nerve cells in the brain or protect other cells damaged by stroke, the research published by the Cochrane Library stated.
The researchers examined 52 studies concerning selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
"Anti-depressants have been successfully used for many years to relieve depression. However, it now appears that they also have effects on the brain that may help patients make a better recovery from the physical effects of stroke," the Daily Mail quoted Professor Gillian Mead, professor of stroke and elderly care medicine at the university, as saying.
"The results of this meta-analysis are extremely promising. We do not yet fully understand how anti-depressants could boost recovery after stroke, but it may be because they promote the growth of new nerve cells in the brain, or protect cells damaged by stroke," she stated.
She added that by preventing depression, the drugs may help patients to be more physically active which is known to aid overall recovery.
"We now need to carry out a number of much larger clinical trials in order to establish exactly if, how and to what extent antidepressants can help stroke survivors recover," she noted.