Anti-depressants could help stroke patients recover more quickly by `rebuilding` the brain, according to a new study.
Anti-depressants could help post stroke recovery even in patients who are not depressed, according to the study published by the Cochrane Library.
The drugs could reduce dependence, physical disability, depression and anxiety in the first year after a stroke, the `Daily Mail` reported.
They could also promote the growth of new nerve cells in the brain or protect other cells damaged by stroke, the authors suggest.
By preventing depression they may encourage more patients to be physically active.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh 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," Professor Gillian Mead, professor of stroke and elderly care medicine at the university, said.
"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," Mead said.
"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 added.
"The results of this meta-analysis are very encouraging and highlight the need for further clinical research trials. If these trials are positive, antidepressants could reduce the disabling effects of stroke in tens of thousands of patients every year," commenting on the research, Dr Dale Webb, director of research and information at the Stroke Association, said.
"However, we are a long way off this type of treatment being offered to stroke patients to reduce the physical effects of the condition. We look forward to the results of further research," Webb added.