Heart disease and depression are two of the most prevalent and debilitating diseases out there, and they often overlap. Up to 40% of heart disease patients meet the criteria for major depressive disorder. Although depression is the mental health condition most commonly associated with heart disease, the  CDC has identified people who live with these disorders to be at risk as well:

  • Mood Disorders:
  • Anxiety disorders
  • PTSD
  • Chronic stress

What’s the connection between mental health and heart disease?

People who live with anxiety disorders, chronic stress, and depression over time can experience increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone), and reduced blood flow to the heart. These physiologic effects can result in a build-up of plaque in the arteries. High cortisol levels can increase blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure- all considerable risk factors for heart disease.

Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD can also develop after a heart attack or heart failure. The pain associated with the cardiac event and the fear that it may happen again can trigger these conditions. Financial worries stemming from the medical leave of a job can also be a huge factor.

People living with depression also have an increased risk of adopting unhealthy habits such as smoking, overeating, and not exercising enough, exacerbating the symptoms. In many cases, people living with depression don’t have the support or healthy coping strategies for dealing with stressful situations.

The psychological impact of heart disease

A heart attack can impact a person mentally as well as physically. They may have anxiety about the recovery process or fear of another cardiac event. They may have many self-doubts and lack of confidence in their physical abilities after going through so much physical trauma. Their moods may go up and down, and they may feel guilty or embarrassed that they need help with many daily living activities.

If you’re anxious and stressed out while trying to recuperate from a heart attack or any other heart disease-related issue, it will only make the recovery process more difficult. If anxiety and depression are impeding the process of rehabilitation, recovery may need to include psychological support as well.

Since symptoms of heart disease and depression are similar, mental health issues such as fatigue, sleep issues, and anxiety are often overlooked because they are assumed to be connected with the heart condition.

Mental Health support is essential when recovering from heart disease

While maintaining healthy lifestyle practices such as eating a balanced diet and exercising is vital to recovering from heart disease, receiving adequate mental health support is just as important.

Managing stress effectively is an excellent tool for anyone to have, especially someone who is at risk for or has a heart condition. Sometimes going back to everyday life after a heart attack requires the support of a qualified mental health professional.

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, especially after recovering from a heart episode, contact Serene Health at  (855) 256-5517 or visit our website to book an appointment. We offer Telemedicine appointments on our unique app from the comfort of your own home.