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Managing Behavior and Personality Changes

Various areas of the brain assist with the control of behavior. Behavior changes after stroke are common, but they may be the most difficult for family and friends to understand and become accustomed to.

The most common behavior changes are acting in inappropriate ways, such as being physically aggressive, sexually forward, and verbally abusive.

Being physically aggressive occurs when aggression is directed against another person. This may include invading someone's space by getting too close to him or her. Physical aggression may also include violence.

Being sexually forward is a form of inappropriate behavior. This may include saying inappropriate words relating to sex to another person or touching someone in a sexual manner.

Being verbally abusive is a form of abusive behavior towards another person involving language. This may include using curse words, name calling, or any unkind words directed against others.

You may not be aware of your behavior, but those around you are very aware. It is rather difficult to control a behavior that you are not aware of. Therefore, it is important to have people who care around you, so that they can help you.


What are tips for behavior changes?

  • Listen to those around you when they tell you that your behavior is inappropriate
  • Encourage your family and friends to offer reinforcement when you are exhibiting appropriate behavior
  • Allow those around you to set necessary limits and to explain their concerns about your safety
  • Try this website for more information about behavior interventions:

Personality changes are also common. The most common change is apathy in which you may seem to not care about anything. This is usually mistaken for depression because most apathetic survivors are content to sit and stare at the wall. For more information on depression, see:

Some survivors experience neglect, a disorder in which you may not be aware of things on one side of your body. This can include neglecting paralyzed limbs, food on one side of the plate, or words on one side of the page.

Another personality change that may occur is impulsiveness. Impulsiveness is characterized by acting before thinking. With this disorder, you may be unable to think ahead. Caregivers may be needed to help you overcome these changes as well.

What are tips for dealing with personality changes?

  • If experiencing apathy, make sure you stay active and keep moving. Engage in activities such as gardening, exercising, or other activities in your area. To distinguish between apathy and depression, talk to your health care provider or visit this site:
  • For neglect, encourage caregivers to talk to you on your affected side or place items on that side to help you increase your awareness of your affected side. To learn more about one-side neglect, visit this website:
  • Try to not get upset when caregivers are consistently reminding you to slow down when exhibiting impulsive behavior. Remember that they are trying to help you.

 These changes are not always evident to you, the survivor. Therefore, family and friends play a vital role in overcoming these changes. These changes can be distressing, but remember that they are not always permanent.

The following are websites to provide you with more information about behavior and personality changes:

Behavior Changes After A Stroke

Life After Stroke


Black, J., & Hawks, J. H. (2005). Medical-surgical nursing: Clinical management for positive outcomes (7th ed.). St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders.

Jacelon, C. (2011). The specialty practice of rehabilitation nursing. Glenview, IL: Association of Rehabilitation Nurses.

Written in 2009 by Kalisha Ivey, MSN at the University of Toledo for the Caring~Web©.
Revised 2012

Last Updated: 4/20/16