Depression and Your Heart
Heart disease and depression often go hand in hand. While being diagnosed with heart disease or having a heart attack may increase the risk of depression, depression itself may increase the chances of developing heart disease.
Studies show that people who are depressed are more likely to develop heart disease. Some symptoms of depression, such as lack of energy, can make it harder to take care of your health. Furthermore, you are more likely to feel sad or depressed after a heart attack or heart surgery, or when symptoms of heart disease change your life.
Depression can make physical problems worse. That’s why it is important for heart patients to be proactive about getting treatment. Counseling, medication or a combination of both are effective ways of treating depression.
The American Heart Association recommends that everyone with heart disease be screened for depression with two simple questions:
- During the past month, have you frequently felt down, depressed or hopeless?
- During the past month, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?
If you or a loved one has heart disease, talk to your health care providers about your mental health. Early intervention is crucial for patients with heart disease. Treatment can improve quality of life. It’s also good for your heart.
The Brain and Body Connection
You know exercise is good for your physical health. It's also good for your mental health. Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety and depression. Look for small ways to add activity to your day. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or go on a short walk. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Your brain and your body will benefit from taking these positive heart-healthy steps.
Panic Attack & Heart Attack Similarities
Panic attacks and heart attacks can share similar symptoms. Anyone suffering from sudden and severe chest pain should go to the emergency room, whether being treated for anxiety disorders or not. The physician will test the patient’s blood for specific heart muscle enzymes. If none are found, it’s usually not a heart attack. A cardiologist sensitive to the issues of anxiety and depression will know how to sort out panic attack symptoms from heart attack symptoms.