PURPOSE : Living with the communication impairment of aphasia can be stressful. Chronic stress, depression, and anxiety are intimately linked, may be more pervasive in people with poststroke aphasia than the general population, and may influence cognitive function and treatment outcomes. In this project, we explored the psychological constructs of depression and anxiety and their associations with a biomarker measure of chronic stress in people with aphasia.
METHOD : Fifty-seven participants with aphasia completed measures of depression and anxiety and provided a hair sample from which to extract the stress hormone cortisol. Pearson product–moment correlational analyses were used to identify associations between depression, anxiety, and long-term level of cortisol via hair sample.
RESULTS : While cortisol level was not associated with depression and anxiety across this sample of people with aphasia, a post hoc analysis showed a significant, positive correlation between a subset of participants with moderate and higher levels of depression and elevated cortisol level.
CONCLUSIONS : Chronic stress, depression, and anxiety have been little explored in people with aphasia to date, yet they are associated with future health consequences and impaired cognitive function, motivating further research as well as consideration of these factors in aphasia rehabilitation.