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Depression following SAH

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Hi all,

This is all new to me - I've never posted on a forum before, I'm a bit of a private person really. I had a SAH on 5/1/12 from a weak blood vessel that burst (no aneurism so I know I'm a lucky girl) and to all intents and purposes I'm recovered. Except for being tired all the time. And feeling miserable - like everything that happens to me is always bad. My gran died when I was ill, my other gran died the same time last year, my partner's gran just died, restructuring means I'll lose my job next year. I could go one but lets not depress ourselves! The rational part of me knows this is just one of those things that's out of my control. But that's harder really as it suggests I have no ability to have an impact on what happens to me. Does anyone else feel a little like a victim after this SAH? A bit over-emotional and irrational? To top it all I'm a psychologist so of anyone, I should know how to cope!

How have people coped with the emotions and depressive feelings following a SAH? Be grateful for any pointers/tips.

Annie X

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Hi Annie

Welcome to the site you will find lots of useful information on here to help with your recovery but perhaps more important plenty of moral support from people who know exactly what you're going through. Personally I found the first year of recovery the most challenging having to adjust to new limitations and just learning to accept the enormity of having had a SAH.

Sounds like you have had more than your fare share of losing loved ones recently so no wonder you feel so emotional besides having to come to terms with the SAH itself. Plenty of rest and fluids in the first few months is essential and even though you are a Psychologist maybe some counselling might help. Look forward to hearing more from you.

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Hello and welcome to BTG!

Depression is a common symptom of SAH and being a psychologist will not make you immune from feeling low. So don’t feel that because of your professional status that you are somehow not entitled to feeling the way you do. Don’t feel guilty about having a normal reaction to something.

A lot has gone on in your life recently. You have suffered ill health and there have been numerous bereavements. You are also concerned about your job. These, in fairness to you, are big events. To react emotionally is normal. No-one would be able to sail through a succession of traumatic events like the ones you describe.

Your SAH is very recent. Recovery is measured in years, not weeks. To feel depressed after ill health is a common symptom. It is common because it is so understandable. Having your life suddenly change, without warning and wanting it to change, is not easy to digest immediately. To react against it is healthy - but it feels so rotten, doesn’t it?

Your brain’s capacity, at present is dented. You do not have an intellectual incapacity – but rather the brain’s ability to process things is more fragile than what you are used to. Do some research on ‘brain injury’ as it is something which helped me enormously.

When our brain’s are working at a lower capacity in terms of energy; it becomes harder to work through stress. So emotional recovery from a brain injury, becomes rather unfairly, a tad trickier. The very thing we need to help us with our emotions, i.e. our brain’s, is the very thing that is ‘broken.’

When we are in this state, the smallest of stresses become enormous. To put genuinely big stresses into the equation, such as job loss and bereavement, is in fairness to your brain, almost too much for it to bear.

I recall being depressed after my SAH. The very person who helped me, was a psychologist! I accessed counselling (CBT) with a consultant neuro psychologist at my local branch of Headway – a charity which helps adults who have brain injuries. There I met other survivors and my friendship base became more meaningful; and my emotional recovery was assisted further through having friends who could relate to my circumstance.

I know of some people who have accessed counselling through their GP’s, so maybe you could try this; but Headway was my personal route; albeit a bit late at 12 months post SAH. I could have done with help a lot earlier and that first year was bleak to say the least.

Here is a link for Headway, which you may find helpful. It has fact sheets which deal with depression post brain injury.



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Hi Annie, welcome to BTG.

I was very emotional at about the 3 month mark after my SAH. Lots of tears and over all kinds of things and I'm not normally like that. I'm 15 months post-SAH now but if I overdo it and am feeling fatigued the tears come back easily. I've found counselling to be very helpful, even just to help me organize my thoughts and understand and acknowledge my recovery progress.

You are dealing with a lot now, the grief of losing precious family members and your SAH. Lynn provides some excellent information in her post and coming here to BTG is also a great way to 'speak' with others who have experienced similar feelings. Recovery from SAH can be like grieving on its own. That's how I felt in those early months.

Sandi K. Xoxoox

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Thank you so much for such quick and wise replies. It's surreal - I know that if I was me listening to someone else say everything I've been saying, I would say exactly what you guys have just said to me (if that makes any sense...).

I have never been one to relax and take things easy, so adjusting to the need to slow down and listen to my body when it says it's tired is a strange one for me. I also think that I haven't got a right (!) to be miserable - afterall on the SAH scale, I've had a minor one. Even when in the hospital (Wessex Neuro unit in Southampton) and they were asking me to grade the worst headache I've ever had, I was saying "oooh about a 7 out of 10 I think" (actually it was off the scale!!). I guess I'm also a bit scared of opening my feelings up to the world and asking for help in case it leaves me feeling vulnerable.

On the plus side, how wonderful to read so many entries by people who have been through so much and have had their world turned upside down and are still able to be rational and willing to share their experiences to reassure and support others. A whole new world has been opened up to me!

Has anyone else accessed counselling through their workplace or have people tended to go to specialist counsellors who have experience working with people with brain injury? I can access counselling through work and I have been offered it since returning a couple of weeks ago (albeit it only on a couple of days a week). I'm not sure how I feel about accessing something like that through work (I work for the civil service) but on the plus side it's free and I have heard good things about it from friends who have accessed it for divorce and various other issues.

Any advice gratefully received. And thank you again.

Annie x

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Hi again!

I'm not sure what country you are in but your patient & privacy laws will probably protect your confidentiality if you have concerns about that. I'm in Canada and accessed counselling through work in the beginning. It was pretty general but was part of what helped me to recognize that I needed more help. It was a positive experience however, I needed a psychologist with some experience with brain injuries to help get me to the next level of awareness. I was in heavy denial, refusing to believe anything was wrong, working too much and my brain was sending out alarm signals that I was ignoring.

I think the free counselling is a good place to start. Being a psychologist yourself you will know pretty quickly whether or not it's going to be enough for you. If you need more or different services perhaps your work will support (fund) a number of sessions? Mine are being covered under insurance as its recognized that the sessions will help get me back to work for more hours.

Sandi K.

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Hi Annie,

I would suggest a nuero psychologist would be the best avenue. I have been seeing one for a while. They are more experienced in helping with problems specific to brain injury (although, I am sure you already know that!!). On top of the bereavements you have gone through, a brain injury on it's own can have a massive impact on your emotions & your ability to cope with them, for that reason I think a NS would be more beneficial for you.

I know you said you think you are lucky as they was no treatable cause for your bleed but as far as I am aware it's not the cause but the actual bleed that can leave such an aftermath behind it. It's no less damaging because you didn't have an aneurysm causing it. I'm sure some of the others on here can reassure you that the problems after SAH are the same whether there was an aneurysm or not. Personally, I have 3 but my recovery has had the same obstacles as the members on here who didn't have any.

I hope things start to feel better for you soon.

Michelle x

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Hi Annie

Warm welcome to the site glad you found us.

everyone else has said wise words so all I can add is your not alone we've all felt that at one stage or another you are very early in recovery but from someone thats been there I can say that it does get better & easier as time passes.....

take the others advice dont suffer in sielance ask for help....

take care

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Hello again,

The only experience I have is counselling through a neuro psychologist. I speak very highly of the experience and my psychologist validated many of my feelings. Acknowledging my ‘right’ to be feeling the way I did was an important step towards my progress. It allowed me to build more constructive and positive thoughts upon it.

My counselling is free through Headway. So there have been no costs. I have no experience of more generic counselling.

With my neuro counselling, my psychologist is able to talk me through the environmental things which I have reacted to, (loss of career, friends and athleticism,) but he is also able to offer insight into how some of my thought processes are familiar themes amongst people with brain injuries. I.e. problems with working memory, inflexibility and emotional lability.

This has been very important to me. I was once very hard on myself for feeling low and tearful; but I now understand how a brain injury can lead to different reactions and ways of behaving. I also understand, (as do my family, thankfully!) why I can be quite entrenched in my routines, whereas previously I was once chaotic. Maybe I would not have received this insight through generic counselling; but I am not a professional in this area and you will have greater knowledge than me.

That’s all I can vouch for is that neuro counselling has been an amazing experience and I feel I am a better person for it. I am far more empathic and I see things more holistically than before.

Counselling has also helped me to see what my brain injury has given me, not just taken away.

Lynne xx

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Hi Annie

I suffered terribly for a few months after my SAH and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome - counselling helped me soooo mcuh. I, like you, was a private person and very rarely shared my inner thoughts and fears with anyone but my nearest and dearest - however since the SAH I have learned that its so much better to share my fears as others can help alleviate them. I found that more than anywhere here on BTG - seek counselling regardless of the fact that you're a psychologist - you need to talk to someone too, not just listen and diagnose others.

Take care of you ad look forward to chatting more.

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Depression seems to run rampant for me after SAH.

I do also get emotional, often drying at silly things like commercials. Funnier yet is if I was having a coffee in a restaurant and the waitress missed me with a refill of coffee I would get sorrowful feelings welling up in me.

I havent seen a counsellor yet. I am sure I should. Many of the "issues" I face these days are work related.

I have gone to cousellors provided by work before for other things. I am not sure if I am ready for that just yet I need to come to terms with a few things first.

Sometimes, for me, the logic I applied to things before my SAH doesnt seem to apply anymore. I am more forgetful and can concentrate less. I am now more understanding of the need for a cry for no particular reason. There are times when I go for a walk and enjoy solitude, just for the sake of solitude.

I guess nature has a way of providing ways for us to cope with things. Like I said I am sure I will be visiting a counsellor eventually. I just need to deal with some things first. Oh and Free is always good :)

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Hi Annie

I have tried counselling via my work, and the woman I saw was brilliant! I did only have 4 sessions within the first 4 months post-SAH, however could probably have done with many more, but only have 6 per year so saved the other 2...but didn't end up using them in the end...

I did then get some sessions via my GP but that wasn't so good. The guy I saw couldn't understand why I was upset, and was quite rude, and just wanted to keep dragging up my past, relationships with family, friends, boyfriends etc... not discuss the issue of SAH at all really. I only had a couple of sessions with him as it wasn't helping me.

So it depends who you get, but a Neuro-Psychologist sounds like the best answer, but I wasn't sure how I could access that. Maybe I should have requested it at my follow-ups appointments... but that means taking more holidays off work...as I now have to for my hospital appointments.

I would certainly give the work counselling a go, even if you do end up requesting a Neuro-psychologist (as that could take time to sort out)

I hope you find the best course of action for you.

Take care

Kel x

Edited by KelBel
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Hi Anne

Like a lot of people I also am not good at talking about me and sorting out my life - give me someone else to sort out and job done, full of wise words and coping methods to help them - myself - not a clue!! (head in sand, pretend its not happening!)

I also had counselling through work - again limited sessions but was really worth while - it helped put into perspective a lot of feelings and emotions. I also tried some counselling through GP - but unfortunately did not feel comfortable with him so stopped those sessions.

I think its really worth while, and if you can find a counsellor that you are comfortable with then that is the first major hurdle to be able to open up.

Try it .... as Bob Hoskins says .... "its good to talk"


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Hello all

Thank you so much for all your words of wisdom - it really does mean a lot to be reassured that you aren't the only person feeling a certain way!

You have definitely inspired me to be a bit more proactive and tomorrow I'm going to a support group for people who have had SAH at the Wessex neuro centre at Southampton (thank you to Gill for encouraging me!!). I also told my manager that I was struggling a bit and he was very clear that I can take as long as I need to get fully back to work and that I can access counselling if/when I want to.

So... all in all, feeling a little better, still a way to go, but I guess that's the nature of SAH?!

Really pleased I discovered this site - it seems like a good place to get stuff off your chest and help others too!

Annie X

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  • 2 years later...

Annie, My name is Gail and I had the exact thing happen to me on 1/1/2012. No aneurism, just a burst vessel. What you describe above is exactly the way I have felt - horrible. I very slowly began to feel better, it took months so try and be patient with yourself. I kept reminding myself about taking baby steps. I suffered miled executive cognitive damage and believe me, I noticed it. The fatigue and depression was very hard to deal with. Try and remember your starting point of recovery, that helped me - when I got out of the hospital I couldn't stay awake longer than a couple of hours at a time. I went back to work full time in July of 2012. That's all I was able to do - work then sleep for quite a few months. But I noticed that slowly over time I was staying awake and alert into the evening.

I bought a nutribullet just before Thanksgiving (2013) and have been having a veggie/fruit smoothie every morning. I can really tell a difference in my energy so that is something to consider, try and get good nutrients into your body so your brain has more sources for healing.

Hang in there and I'm glad you are still with us - many blessings to you. Keep taking baby steps and you will get there!

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Hi Gail,

Same here. No aneurysm but still a bleed nonetheless. I have suffered from depression since mine 10 months ago and I never did before. I still get feelings if dread, which I think is anxiety since my heart races when I get these feelings.

It's such a long and winding road.


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