How to Handle Depression After a Heart Attack

A heart attack can be a traumatic experience, both physically and mentally. The emotions of hopelessness, unhappiness, and anger lead to depression and delay in the recovery. This PsycholoGenie article will tell you how to handle depression after a heart attack.
PsycholoGenie Staff
According to the Harvard Health Publications, people who suffer from post-heart attack depression are two to three times more likely to get another heart attack or die prematurely, as compared to survivors who do not get depressed.
Suffering from a heart attack can cause physical as well as emotional trauma to a patient. It may lead to the person getting irritated, anxious, or sad. Not only this, he may feel like crying frequently due to depression. It may even result in sleeping disorders.
A person may think that due to his close shave with death, his days are now numbered, and this may lead to the feeling of anxiety and fear. Apart from the physical and emotional suffering due to a heart attack, the beta blockers prescribed as medication to patients who are recovering from a heart attack can lead to depression.
In some extreme cases, patients may also get suicidal thoughts. All this affects their recovery drastically. Because of depression, they may also indulge excessively in alcohol or cigarettes which may increase the risk of another heart attack. Hence, it is all the more important to handle depression after a heart attack, effectively and immediately.
Coping with Depression After a Heart Attack
Understand Your Mental State
It is perfectly normal for anyone who has recovered from a heart attack to feel depressed. So, if you are feeling low, do not continue to suffer. You must recognize the feelings of depression and promptly seek help. Some people may think that life is unfair towards them. They may feel inadequate due to physical restrictions and upset about suffering from such a serious ailment. This may burden their hearts and lead to another heart attack instead of recovery. Hence, it becomes all the more important that they acknowledge the need for help and approach others for it.
Speak to Your Family and Friends
Your family members and friends, being the closest to you, will give you a patient listening and try to help you out. Therefore, it is important that you tell them right away about the depression that you are suffering from. Not only will they understand your problem, but they will also try to provide counseling to you. Sometimes, even if they give you good company and spend some quality time with you, it will help lift your spirits. Do not hide anything from them, as bottling up your emotions will only escalate the situation. You must discuss openly about your depression with your near and dear ones, and allow them to help you out.
Cardiac Rehabilitation
These days, people who are recovering from a heart attack or other heart ailments can join a cardiac rehabilitation or cardiac rehab program. It ensures your overall well-being and helps expedite recovery. Not only does it offer monitored exercise and nutritional counseling, but it also provides much-needed emotional support. Patients are also educated about making changes to their lifestyle and adjusting to them in order to prevent further heart-related problems. It is a program that is recommended by both the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. Hence, it will be a good platform to help you get over your depression.
Exercise Your Body and Mind
If you do not join a cardiac rehab, it is essential that you seek your doctor's advice and start some light physical activity. Doing light exercises, like walking or not too heavy weights can help you remain active. It is best if you take help of a specialized trainer who understands and caters to your special needs in order to avoid injuries. Similarly, you will also have to exercise your mind by feeding it with positive thoughts which will facilitate your quick recovery. This will help you let go of the bitter emotions and embrace a new life.
Get Intimate
Many people are apprehensive and scared to return to their normal sexual activity. They think that they may suffer another heart attack if they indulge in it. This causes them to avoid getting intimate with their partners after a heart attack. However, getting back to your sex life can help you deal with depression in a better way. Your doctor may conduct a few tests, including a stress test to ensure that you are fit for it. Once, your doctor gives you a go-ahead, you can become sexually active again. This will help you focus on your relationship and make you feel better.
Join Support Groups
There are many support groups for people who have recovered from a heart attack. You can join them to discuss your experience and share your story. When you exchange your thoughts with people who have also been through a similar situation, it will help you deal with your depression in a better way. Also, not only will you get support, but you will also feel good by offering help to many people who have undergone a similar situation like you. It will give you hope and help you in adjusting with the new changes in your lifestyle. Similarly, you can also join various online forums.
Talk to a Mental Health Counselor
It may so happen that you are not able to say things openly to your family and friends. At such times, it is best to get help from a mental health counselor. He/she will provide counseling to help you recover from depression. He/she may also treat you with a variety of antidepressants, ensuring that it does not interfere with your medications before prescribing them to you.
Reinvent Your Focus in Life
In order to overcome your anxiety and depression, you can look at life in a new light. Why think of your heart attack as something that has stolen away a part of your life? Instead, think of it as something which made you realize the importance of things and people that truly matter to you. Try to spend time doing things which you really wanted to do but may not have pursued. Do things that make you happy and cheer you up. Spend time with your children or grandchildren, read books, take a vacation, or even go for strolls. Do everything that will help you overcome your depression and live a happy life.
Return to Your Normal Life
Slowly and steadily, try to return to your routine activities. If you go to work, consult your doctor before resuming your duties. Conquer small fears first, before you head for the big ones. Remember, a heart attack can happen to anyone, and you have survived it. Not many people can get help in time and live to tell the tale. You are definitely someone with a fighter's spirit. Don't get bogged down by depression. It is temporary and is no match for your survival instinct. Return to your daily life as if nothing ever happened.
If you are trying to support a person suffering from depression post a heart attack, it is important that you keep patience and understand his feelings. Not only this, please don't hesitate to consult health care professionals to help him recover from the physical and mental trauma of a heart attack. Now that you know how to deal with depression after a heart attack effectively, take these measures to overcome the same. Remember, just one thing―you are a survivor!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.