Where to get emotional support for heart conditions

Written by DanielleBosely MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

Suffering from anything that could potentially take your life is a distressing event. Unlike some disastrous illnesses that strike at will but can possibly be eradicated, such as cancer, heart conditions stick around for the long haul. They’re generally with you for life. Because of this, being diagnosed with a heart condition can seem like a life sentence to nowhere good.

Patients who are diagnosed with arrhythmias might be scoffed at by someone whose experienced heart attacks or a stroke. But the truth is, all heart conditions are sort of created equal. At least in the respect that having something wrong with your heart can be downright terrifying. When the diagnosis first comes, it can be difficult to digest. Before that moment that the doctor utters those words, you’re still just like everyone else; you’re still in good health. Then, everything is changed.

Change Doesn’t Come Easy

Adjusting your life to accommodate a heart condition most certainly isn’t fun. It’s frightful. It can cripple you if you’re not wary of what you’re walking into. It can make you feel like every turn you take could be the nail in the coffin. Unfortunately, heart conditions frequently get worse throughout a person’s life. With age comes further deterioration of arterial walls. Blockages become more severe, too. The overall likelihood of blood clots traveling to the brain and causing a stroke or a heart attack occurring increases, as well. To combat these risks that elevate even for someone without a heart condition, the affected patient must sometimes change everything about their lives.

It requires diligence. It’s not all about popping a baby aspirin every day and making better food choices. It’s also about exercise. For people who are a fan of fried foods and an enemy of their Stairmaster, describing the transition to a life with a heart condition is beyond difficult.

Support

So, where do people who are suffering from these conditions turn to for support? The easiest resource might be a well-trusted friend or family member, but unless they’ve gone through it themselves, they often don’t understand what the patient is experiencing. Instead, they might need a professional. A grief counselor can often help in these situations, as well as some psychologists who specialize in treating people with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. Heart conditions certainly apply.

Sometimes, grief support comes in the form of call centers. These facilities house counselors and advocates who are available — sometimes around-the-clock — to discuss your fears. While they are not privy to your medical information, you are free to share it with them. However, they cannot advise you in what steps to take medically. For advice along these lines, a doctor is the right person to speak with. You cardiologist may also be able to refer you to a support group for patients with heart conditions. Hospitals often provide these kinds of support networks directly to their patients free of charge. It’s worth the inquiry if you are feeling depressed, anxious or otherwise troubled by your diagnosis.

 

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