Search icon

HEART HEALTH:

COPING WITH DEPRESSION AFTER A HEART ATTACK

Key Takeaways

IT’S COMPLETELY NORMAL

After a heart attack, depression is very common. Know the signs and get help in treating depression.

TAKE DEPRESSION SERIOUSLY

Depression is not something to try to beat on your own. Ignoring depression can actually increase your risk for another heart attack.

THERE’S NO SHAME

Suffering from depression is not something to be ashamed of. With the right support and treatment, you can beat depression.

Recovering from a heart attack is a real battle. But when you’re coming back from heart disease and don’t expect the depression that can accompany your recovery, you’re fighting two battles at the same time.

Depression is Serious. Know the Signs

Depression can increase the risk of an adverse cardiac event in people with heart disease. For people without heart disease, depression can increase the risk of a heart attack and the development of coronary artery disease. That's why it's so important to know the signs:

  • Feeling hopeless: You cry far more than normal, and are often on the verge of tears.

  • Wanting to withdraw: You feel the urge to live in isolation.

  • A change in eating habits: You may have no appetite, or you may not be able to stop eating. This may cause sudden weight loss or weight gain.

  • Lack of interest: You used to enjoy certain hobbies or activities, but with depression you don’t seem to care.

  • Increased alcohol consumption: With some depression and heart disease sufferers, the urge to self-medicate with alcohol is overwhelming. Ironically, this often increases depression and leads to a never-ending spiral of binging and feeling depressed.

  • You can’t sleep: Heart disease and depression can rob you of the rest you need.

  • Constant fatigue: The other side of insomnia can be feeling completely drained, with no energy to do normal things.

  • Self-loathing: Depression sufferers sometimes report feelings of worthlessness, emptiness, or guilt.

  • Inability to concentrate: You might find it difficult to make simple decisions or do regular chores.

  • Suicidal thoughts: Even if you never act on them, these thoughts are sometimes the most difficult part of depression, and heart disease sufferers should pay close attention to this sign.

Depression can easily derail the progress of your heart attack recovery. That’s why it’s so important to reach out for help.

Getting Help with Depression and Heart Disease

If your depressed mood is severe and accompanied by other symptoms persisting every day for two or more weeks, it's time to seek treatment to help you cope and recover. Talk to your primary care doctor. He or she is a major link in your overall support system and can help you get the help you need. And if you’re caring for someone who’s struggling with heart disease and depression, acknowledging the signs is a big first step. Know that it’s okay to discuss the subject with your loved one. It may help them realize they’re not alone.

THE HEART HEALTH RISK TOOL1

LEARN YOUR RISK OF A HEART ATTACK OR STROKE

Do you know your risk factors?2 Find out and get a personalized heart-healthy action plan to share with your doctor.

Scale from low to high with indicator over high Scale from low to high with indicator over high
LOW
MODERATE
ELEVATED
HIGH

HEART ATTACK SURVIVOR STORIES