Mental health is an essential aspect of overall health. It is connected to a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. In addition, it impacts how a person thinks, acts, and makes decisions. According to many studies, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can create stress on the body, including the heart. This article will discuss how mental health and heart disease are connected and what you can do about it.
Which Mental Health Disorders are Related to Heart Disease?
Here are some of the most common mental health conditions that can cause heart disease-related issues:
Mood Disorders: People with mood disorders like major depression or bipolar disorder may find that their mood impacts both psychological and mental well-being almost every day for the majority of the day.
Anxiety Disorders: People respond to various situations with fear or dread. These anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorders, and phobias.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): People with PTSD experience mental health distress after undergoing a traumatic life experience, like war, natural disaster, sexual assault, or any other severe incident.
Chronic Stress: People in a constate state of emotional stress experience chronic stress. Predictable biochemical, physiological, and behavioral changes usually accompany these states of chronic stress. In other words, it is a constant stress that persists over an extended period.
In addition, it is essential to note that other behavioral disorders, like substance use disorder, may be linked to heart disease.
How Are Depression and Heart Disease Related to One Another?
Depression and heart disease are two of the most severe illnesses that one can face. They are widespread among the general population and can co-occur.
Experts believe that there is a two-way relationship between heart disease and depression and it is as follows:
Some people with no history of depression can become depressed following a heart attack. Another factor to consider is that some people with depression who have no previously detected heart disease develop heart disease, often at a much higher rate than those who don’t have depression.
However, it is difficult to prove that heart disease directly develops into a first-ever episode of depression. It is challenging to prove because some people with previous bouts of depression may not obtain a formal diagnosis until they see their doctor for heart-related issues.
We know that statistically, about one in five people who have a heart attack have been known to have depression soon after the heart attack. In addition, it’s at least as prevalent in people with heart failure.
What is the Psychological Impact of a Heart Attack?
A heart attack can impact many aspects of a person’s life. For example, it can have negative consequences in the following ways:
- Adverse effects on attitude and mood
- It can impact a person’s sense of certainty about their future
- Confidence in one’s ability to fulfill roles in society
- Feelings of guilt due to previous habits that may have heightened their heart attack risks
- Shame and self-doubt over reduced physical capabilities
It is essential to note that many heart attack survivors can return to their roles before their heart attack. However, when anxiety and other mental health issues become debilitating and interfere with daily functioning, rehabilitation, and recovery after the heart attack may need to involve psychological support.
What Can You Do About Mental Health and Heart Disease Related Issues?
You can take many steps to reduce adverse consequences associated with mental health and heart-related issues. First, you can talk to your healthcare provider about your feelings and concerns. They can help you and find the best care possible for your unique situation.
In addition, you can discuss your feelings and symptoms with loved ones, and keep them up-to-date about whatever is going on in your situation. All in all, many resources are available for people going through something difficult, like mental health and heart-related issues. Be sure to navigate our resources at LGBTQ and ALL to find a healthcare provider that can help you cope with any distress related to mental health and heart disease.
Here are some other ideas for support when it comes to mental health and heart-related issues:
Participate in Cardiac Rehabilitation
Cardiac rehabilitation (aka, cardiac rehab) is a program that involves support, exercise, and education. Qualified health professionals conduct it, and the program’s overall goal is to strengthen your heart.
If you have experienced a heart attack, undergone heart surgery, or have been diagnosed with a heart-related condition, cardiac rehab can help you make lasting lifestyle changes. These changes can enhance your well-being and minimize the risks of another heart attack.
In a cardiac rehab program, you can also access tools and resources to manage anxiety and depression. You’ll connect with people with similar experiences as well, which can help create emotional support with people going through similar situations.
Try Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is significant for managing mental health and heart-related issues. Possible healthy lifestyle changes can include:
- Getting more exercise and staying active
- Developing a healthy relationship with food and enjoying nutritious foods
- Drinking less alcohol
- Not smoking
- Finding management techniques for stress
- Learning relaxation techniques
- Getting adequate sleep
Find Support from Others and Connection
As previously mentioned, connecting with people who are going through similar situations can help. Knowing you’re not alone can be healing. When you interact with people in your community, it can be positive for your mental health and well-being. Some ideas for finding people to connect with can include:
- getting involved with a local group with similar interests
- volunteering for causes important to you
- joining a free Heart Foundation Walking group.
Managing mental health and heart-related issues can be a stressful experience. If you are concerned about your thoughts or feelings, you can always talk to someone and find help. Whether it’s your doctor, another healthcare professional, or a loved one, there are many ways to find support during a challenging time.
For more information and support, visit our mental health and healthcare practitioner database at LGBTQ and ALL.