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What Is Heart Attack Depression?

Posted Feb 12 2010 4:35pm

Nearly half of heart attack survivors suffer depression.  Some doctors will say that depression following a heart attack is normal and expected.  Whether this is true or notsymptoms of depression that follow a heart attack need to be identified and treated.

Dangers of Heart Attack Depression

The onset of depression following a heart attack can be more dangerous than if the patient was previously affected with depression.  Studies show that when the first onset of depression follows a heart attack people are 2 to 3 times more likely to die prematurely or suffer another heart attack when compared to those who do not have post heart attack depression.

Causes of Heart Attack Depression

Heart attack depression may be due to the fear of dying or grieving over the loss of the patient’s health. Other factors can cause depression following a heart attack as well.  The fear of reoccurrencethe stress of being hospitalizedthe feeling of helplessnessfeelings of vulnerability and worry about time missed at work and bills piling up can all contribute to depression.

The lifestyle changes that are thrust upon heart attack sufferers can cause great stress and concern.  You are told that you need to change your dietchange your exercise regimenlose weightand stop smoking and many other changes to your way of living. Determining the core cause of the depression is important as different causes respond to different treatments.

Symptoms and Treatment of Heart Attack Depression

It is important for the heart attack victimtheir family membersfriends and the professionals caring for them following a heart attack are aware of and identify depression symptoms if they present.  Symptoms of heart attack depression are the same as the symptoms of depression without a heart attack; feelings of sadness and frequent cryingchanges in weight and appetiteloss of interest in activities that used to be funsleeping too much or too littleloss of energybeing easily agitated or crankydifficulty concentrating and problems making decisionsfeelings of hopelessnessfeeling guilty or worthless and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

If these symptoms are new to the patient after they have experienced a heart attack they should be reported to the physician.  Treatment may be required if they do not resolve themselves in a short period of timeusually two weeks.  Follow up care of the heart attack victim may need to include treatment of depression by a therapist to prevent complications that can be caused by such depression.   Without treatmentdepression in a heart patient can contribute to an increased risk for reoccurrence of heart attack and coronary disease.  It can also interfere with your cardiac rehabilitation delaying or preventing your recovery.

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