The Link Between Heart Disease and Depression - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on February 16, 2016

The Link Between Heart Disease and Depression

About one in five people who have a heart attack develop depression soon after.

About one in five people who have a heart
attack develop depression soon after.

Depression and heart disease are both devastating diseases that affect many people. While anyone could possibly face one of these conditions, there are some people that struggle with both simultaneously.

In fact, it’s believed that the relationship between heart disease and depression goes both ways – some people become depressed after a heart attack or after developing heart failure. And some people with depression tend to develop heart disease at a higher rate than the general population.

About one in five people who have a heart attack develop depression soon after. It’s common and makes sense to feel sad or depressed after being diagnosed with or while recovering from heart disease, stroke, or a cardiac procedure. But how long those feelings last and how debilitating they become indicates whether someone is going through the natural feelings after a major life event, or whether they’re slipping into depression.

It may be difficult to pinpoint depression since heart disease and depression often carry overlapping symptoms such as low energy, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and trouble returning to a daily routine. Because of this, patients, their family and their doctors may attribute symptoms of depression to heart disease.

However, if they don’t feel like getting out of bed and facing the day and are irritable all the time, these are signs they may be having a depressive response to heart disease. One of the best indicators that you or a loved one is depressed is not enjoying things that used to give you pleasure – and it’s a sign you shouldn’t ignore.

Other indicators of depression after heart disease are sleeping and eating too much or too little. And, if these symptoms persist every day for two or more weeks, you should seek treatment to cope and recover.

And then there are cases of depression leading to heart disease. While there isn’t a definitive cause-and-effect relationship, people struggling with depression have a tendency to not take care of themselves – a common complication of depression is gaining excess weight or becoming obese, which can lead to heart disease and other health issues. Additionally, depressed individuals may pick up the habit of smoking, which is also a risk factor for heart disease.

Whether depression accompanies heart disease or not, it’s important to get treatment for it. Depression triggers stress hormones, which can induce inflammation and plaque buildup in arteries, which can accelerate heart diseases. Depressed individuals find it more difficult to follow advice about how to take care of themselves, take medication and improve their lifestyle, all of which could severely hinder recovery from a heart attack or stroke.

The best ways to treat depressions are counseling, medications, or a combination of both. If you’re depressed, your treatment will depend on the type of depression you have and how severe it is.

Counseling gives you the opportunity to talk about the thoughts that are affecting your mood. A trained therapist can also teach you ways to relax and relieve stress. And mood-lifting medications can help balance your hormones, and get you back to feeling like your normal self.

Related Locations

eNewsletter Signup

Our eNewsletters from Crozer-Keystone Health System help keep you up-to-date on your health and well being. View recent editions or sign up to receive our free eNewsletters.