Depression after a heart attack
Have you or a loved one ever suffered from a heart attack or heart disease? Have you ever suffered from depression? Well, it just may be that depression and such heart problems are related. For instance, it’s three times as likely that you’ll get depression after a heart attack than you would normally. Fifteen to twenty percent of those who have suffered a heart attack are later diagnosed with depression; larger numbers also exhibit some symptoms of depression that does not meet the cut off for a diagnosis as such.
How do you feel?
Depression affects your mood and perceptions, which can increase your lack of confidence and inhibit the recovery process after a heart attack. Do you have continuous feelings of emptiness, sadness, or anxiousness? How about trouble staying asleep, insomnia, or sleeping too much? Are you overeating or losing your appetite? Being unable to concentrate, remember things accurately, or having a hard time making decisions? These are all signs and symptoms of depression. Depression can be extreme or a little lighter, but its symptoms can encourage negative thinking, uncertainty, and worry, leading to thoughts of death or attempted suicide.
Heart and mind are connected
It’s not only common for those who have suffered a heart attack or have heart disease to be diagnosed with depression, but it’s common for those who have depression to be diagnosed with heart disease or suffer a heart attack. Depression reduces mental and physical health, which can increase the risk of heart-related problems or make such problems worse. Lack of proper nutrition and exercise especially increases the risk of heart disease or heart attack.
Good mental and physical health is necessary for a healthy heart. This makes depression especially dangerous, as it lowers your self-confidence and inspires unhealthy habits such as lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and over or under-eating.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga can also help with depression. In doing yoga, your body releases endorphins, which make you feel happier and increases your sense of well-being. Yoga works by using exercises that put pressure on certain organs or glands, triggering the release of a chemical balance that induces feelings of well-being and relieves stress. The movements required in yoga – stretching, bending, and reaching – also work to expel toxins from the body. Meditation is sometimes used as a supplement to yoga or other depression treatments, as it reduces stress and calms the mind and body.
Friends and Family Support
Other strategies to combat depression include social support. Depression can cause you to withdraw from your family and friends, making you feel isolated and alone. Talking with your family, friends, or a therapist about your feelings and your problems can help alleviate some of your stress and make you feel better. Support from people who know and care about you may be that extra boost you need to fight depression.
Exercise is your ally
As depression can increase your lack of motivation and unhealthy eating habits, exercise is also encouraged. Exercise is good for your heart, making you healthier and reducing your risk of heart attack or heart disease. Exercise can also be calming, reducing stress and making you feel better overall. Other healthy habits, such as healthy eating, reduction in alcohol consumption and smoking, are also good for your heart in addition to helping you fight depression.
Cognitive behavior therapy
There are several ways to treat depression. One of the commonest is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a talk therapy that focuses on helping the patient change negative thoughts and behaviors that could be contributing to their depression. By changing the way you think and act in a more positive direction, cognitive behavioral therapy can help alleviate depression.
Medications to control the mood
Another common treatment is medication such as Prozac or Cymbalta. Such medication acts as reuptake inhibitors, preventing neurotransmitters from being absorbed back into the brain. High levels of certain neurotransmitters are thought to improve nerve cells’ communication with each other, strengthening the brain circuits that control your mood and correct the chemical imbalance that might cause depression in the first place. Most reuptake inhibitors inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrin, two neurotransmitters that have a strong effect on your mood.
Don’t be afraid
If you have depression, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people describe depression as a chemical imbalance in the brain. This does not mean that you’re crazy, or that you’re destined to feel empty and lonely and worthless forever. What it does mean is that your depression is not your fault. It is a health issue like the ones affecting any other part of your body that deserves attention and help sooner rather than later. Seeking help, whether through therapy or medication, will only benefit you. Although seeking help for your depression is the first step, in doing so you are starting on a long road to recovery. Don’t expect to be cured instantly; it will take time and dedication. However, know that by starting treatment for your depression, you are on your way to a healthier heart, happier life, and happier you.