Depression and Its Common Causes
Up to fifteen per cent of heart attack patients and more than twenty per cent of heart patients who have had CABG surgery experience depression. If you are a heart attack survivor, your risk for depression and heart attack is greater than those of the general population.
This is not a coincidence. Depression can be serious or mild. Mild clinical depression is characterized by symptoms such as
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest in hobbies or other activities
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
Mild depression can be successful in treating cardiovascular disease but if left untreated it can worsen the patient’s condition. There are symptoms to look for.
- Depressed mood
- Increased fatigue or appetite
- Loss of sleep
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Decreased sex drive
- Changes in body weight loss
- Decreased concentration
- Feelings of worthlessness
If you have any of these symptoms it is important to discuss them with your doctor and seek treatment. Many doctors will prescribe antidepressants and anti-depressants such as tricyclics or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), but many heart attack survivors and patients with depression opt for more natural ways to treat depression. Some choose
- Herbal treatments
- Support groups
- Simple changes in lifestyle
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), stress management, individualized stress treatment, dietary changes or exercise, psychotherapy, and biofeedback or self-help techniques can help to reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, guilt, and grief that often accompany depression and heart disease. For many depressed people, talking with a qualified health care provider is key to overcoming depression.
- It’s a mystery: Is depression a risk factor for heart attack?
- Or is it only a warning sign, as depressed individuals engage in dangerous actions that elevate the likelihood of heart attack?
- Is depression simply a secondary condition, prompted by the emotional trauma of major life events, like a heart attack?
- Or does it have a cause that can be dealt with and perhaps even prevented?
The connection between depression and heart attack is a complicated one
Depression elevates your heart rate and blood pressure and decreases your HDL cholesterol and increases your LDL. There are many contributing factors to this relationship, but you can treat your depression, control your blood pressure and reduce your cholesterol without medication if you deal with the underlying causes. If you need help, there are some simple things you can do to strengthen your heart and keep it strong.
Depression leads to unhealthy lifestyle choices
- It lowers your self-esteem and prevents you from making healthy decisions. It can interfere with your work and social relationships and affect your long-term health. Exercise and diet control can reverse some of the negative effects of depression, giving you a more positive outlook on life. This, in turn, can lead to better health and greater resistance to heart disease.
- You should try to avoid becoming too stressed. Staying happy and keeping up healthy habits can reduce the negative impact of depression on your life. When under stress, the body produces cortisol, which is associated with heart disease. But you can offset this effect with proper diet and exercise, which can counter the negative effects of depression.
- Make sure you get plenty of exercises. A sedentary lifestyle has been associated with a number of health issues, including weight gain and heart attack. If you feel your mood is depressed, talk to your doctor about the best ways to exercise to boost your mood. Even 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week can help.
- If your doctor recommends anti-depressants, or if you are given a prescription for these medications, make sure you follow the doctor’s dosage instructions carefully. Some people react to certain medications in unexpected and dangerous ways, increasing the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about taking antidepressants with other lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or reducing stress. Also, make sure you eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercises to reap the benefits of your medicines.
If you are having symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor about the potential benefits of reducing stress and changing your lifestyle to improve your mental health. People suffering from anxiety may benefit from psychotherapy sessions, while those with heart disease may benefit from lifestyle changes that decrease their overall risk of heart attack or stroke.
In addition to regular doctor visits, some people benefit from monthly “checkups” to monitor their health and to spot any possible problems. These visits may help you identify any conditions that might be related to your depression, as well as spot any potential adverse reactions to your medication.
Keeping up with your doctor’s appointments and communicating openly with him or her about any new symptoms or thoughts can help you get the proper treatment for depression and anxiety. Regardless of the cause of depression, it can have a negative impact on your mental health and quality of life.
Millions of people around the country suffer from depression, many of them without realizing how much it affects their lives until it’s too late to treat their condition.
Understanding the causes of depression and how various lifestyle choices can affect the likelihood of developing depression can go a long way toward combating this common but distressing mental disorder. Early detection of depression and its serious consequences can go a long way toward reversing heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other heart problems.
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