Depression after a Heart Attack
There are several factors can lead to depression after heart attack. The stress of being in the hospital, the fear of another heart attack, time away from work can all contribute to feeling depressed, helpless, down and despondent.
Do many people suffer depression after heart attack?
Not surprisingly, the answer to this question is yes. Recent studies show that as many as 65% of people who have a heart attack report feeling depressed, down and despondent. A general state of despair. Moreover, women, people who have been depressed before, and people who feel alone and without social or emotional support are at a higher risk for feeling depressed after a heart attack. Two new Canadian studies have shown that More than twice as many women than men tend to fall into chronic depression after suffering a heart attack and are more likely to lead lives of poorer quality following their treatments.
Being depressed can also make it harder for you to recover. However, depression can be treated.
Being told by doctors that you should take up exercise, adopt a new diet, stop smoking, etc. etc. etc. can certainly make you feel helpless, in fact, you will probably have good days and bad days following your release from hospital. However, most people start to feel better as time passes. People that are quickly able to get back to their usual routines normally notice a drop in anxiety faster than those that don't.
So what exactly is depression?
Depression, be it after a heart attack or not, is a medical illness, like diabetes or high blood pressure and not just somebody going crazy. This is important both for the sufferer and family members to understand. The symptoms of depression may include some or all of the following:
- Feeling sad or crying often
- Losing interest in daily activities that used to be fun
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
- Feeling agitated, cranky or sluggish
- Loss of energy
- Feeling very guilty or worthless
- Problems concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Can heart disease trigger depression or depression trigger heart disease?
Either of the above may be true, one thing seems clear. The two are often found hand in hand, therefore controlling one may help control the other.
According to The American Academy of Family Physicians research has shown that people who are depressed and have pre-existing cardiovascular disease have a 3.5 times greater risk of dying of a heart attack than patients with heart disease who are not depressed. In a recent study, depression was shown to be associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease in men and women. Depression was shown to increase mortality related to coronary heart disease in men but had no effect on mortality in women.
How can the risk of relapse be avoided?
The risk of relapses, be it of heart disease or depression, can be greatly reduced by living a healthy lifestyle, and your doctor will instruct you on this. However, some important lifestyle modifications are avoiding alcohol, illegal drugs, smoking, start a regular exercise program, eating a balanced diet, manage stress, join a club, meet new people or take courses in things that interest you, get enough rest and sleep
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