How to cope with heart conditions and depression

As ironic as it may be, heart conditions are not for the faint at heart. They plague many people of various ages. Some develop them over the course of time, and others are born with heart defects that they’ll need to keep vigil over for their entire lives. Having a heart condition can become particularly bothersome when it interferes with the way a person wishes they could live their life. For example, the teenage athlete that just wants to play football with his buddies but he can’t get the clearance from his doctor because of arrhythmia he has. Older individuals who struggle with high blood pressure or coronary artery disease may feel stifled by the low-flavor diets they’re forced to consume to keep their health in check. While these seem like small prices to pay to stay alive and well, it can still dampen a person’s quality of life.

For survivors of stroke or heart attacks, their families often rally around them and urge them to stay on track with diets and exercise that they find to be lackluster. They may come to resent their loved ones for this. It’s normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy, and it certainly isn’t helping anyone. Sometimes, living with a heart condition can lead to serious upset. Patients recovering from heart attacks may develop anxiety that it’s going to happen again. Individuals who live with congestive heart failure may feel like a ticking time bomb. Living life like your days are numbered empowers some while it frightens others. For the latter, depression can often be a resulting side effect. Every trip to the cardiology department might seem as though it could be your last. At the same time, some may hope that it is. Up to 15 percent of people with heart disease experience depression.

Depression

What is someone with a heart condition to do when they start feeling like their physical health is impairing their mental health? Cardiologists can’t help in this department, but they can refer you to someone who can. A qualified licensed psychologist or psychiatrist is the type of professional people in the predicament need to see. These doctors can assist sufferers of depression with comorbid heart conditions in medicating or otherwise managing their depressive symptoms while still maintaining the lifestyle that their physical health requires.

Medication

There is no shame in asking for help. Sometimes, that help comes in the form of medications that help to improve the levels of feel-good hormones in the brain. It isn’t necessary that there be a chemical imbalance for a person to feel depressed. However, prescription antidepressants can still boost a person’s mood and help to keep their moods more stable when they are fighting other trials in their lives that tend to bring them down.

Management

For some people, medication isn’t the route they want to take. In fact, some individuals may be forced to take medications for their heart condition that don’t mesh well with mental health meds like prescription antidepressants. Those individuals can make use of interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga and mindfulness meditation to lift their spirits, improve communication with well-meaning family members, and keep their whole health on track.

Cite this page: Danielle Bosley, "How to cope with heart conditions and depression," in PsychologyDictionary.org, January 30, 2017, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/how-to-cope-with-heart-conditions-and-depression/ (accessed October 18, 2019).
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