There is a variety of treatments available for depression – two of the most common and effective methods are CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) and pharmacological (anti-depressants). There are plenty of medications that deal with the mental health issue without complicating the heart medications that a patient may also need to take. There is continuing research as to whether the treatments may be able to reduce the risk of another heart attack.
CBT may also prove to be effective for managing depression as well as preventing depression in heart patients following an event or surgery. This intervention may prevent the need for medication in some patients.
There is another potential solution for managing the dangers of heart disease and depression – exercise. A study in conjunction with the Duke University Medical Center found that older adults who have been diagnosed with depression will benefit from exercise and is comparable to the use of antidepressants. This is important because we know that exercise plays a major role in protecting us against heart disease.
If you suspect that you are suffering from depression your first port of call should be your primary care physician. You may be prescribed an antidepressant, there is a variety of options, and not all of them will be right for you. Therefore, it’s important that you are open and honest with your doctor about what you’re going through. Depending on the cause (although you may not have one or know what it could be), talking to a therapist can provide you with relief.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a supervised program that provides help to heart patients who need to recover following surgery or a heart event. It can also help fight depression. It offers structured exercise to get you moving and boost your mood and also provides social support amongst people who are going through the same thing you are. A strong social network is vital to recovering from a heart problem and beating depression, as loneliness and isolation only fuel ill health.
Are You Depressed?
If you have heart disease and suspect that you may be suffering from depression, you should answer these questions.
• In the last month, have you often been left feeling hopeless, down or depressed?
• In the last month, have you often found that you are uninterested in things that normally bring you pleasure?
If it’s a yes to either then there is a good chance you are suffering from depression. The other common depression symptoms include a difficulty sleeping, fatigue, poor appetite (or persistent cravings), irritability, dip in libido, and feeling worthless.
Are you unsure of whether you should seek help? It’s common to experience a dip in your mood following a heart event, but this shouldn’t last more than a few weeks. However, when depression persists and is severe, then treatment is necessary. If you withdraw from your loved ones, feel teary often, and are experiencing an increase in negative thoughts then your depression would be considered severe.
Depression will only become worse if you don’t receive treatment. For the heart patients who are suffering from depression, their risk of a heart event only increases. Therefore, it’s vital that you speak to your doctor about your suspicions and get treatment immediately.
If your mood is low and nothing is bringing you pleasure this is an indication of depression, particularly if it is daily and for longer than two weeks. If you struggle to participate in the recovery program, your doctor has laid out following your heart event then this is another indication. While it is common for patients to struggle emotionally during a physical recovery, a lack of confidence and motivation indicates that the depression wasn’t temporary. If you struggle to go about your typical day, feel as though you have no one to confide in or you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts then treatment is imperative.