Antidepressants may help recovery after a stroke – even in patients who are not depressed, Scots research suggests.

The drugs could reduce dependence, physical disability, depression and anxiety in the first year after a stroke, according to a study which is published in the Cochrane Library.

Antidepressants could promote the growth of new nerve cells in the brain or protect other cells damaged by stroke.

Loading article content

And by preventing depression they may encourage more patients to be physically active, researchers at Edinburgh University said.

Professor Gillian Mead, professor of stroke and elderly care medicine at the university, said: "Antidepressants 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."

Dr Dale Webb, director of research and information at the Stroke Association, added: "If these trials are positive, antidepressants could reduce the disabling effects of stroke in tens of thousands of patients every year."