Depression in Cardiac Patients

The Importance of Emotional Support

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Psychological Impact of Heart Attack

Having a heart attack is a frightening experience for people. Not only will it attack the physical body, but it can also strike people’s emotions. Some behavior changes resulting from a heart attack may include:

  • Difficulties concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Confidence about one’s ability to fulfill their role as an employee, a parent, or a child
  • Embarrassment and self-doubt about one’s diminished physical capacities
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of guilt about previous habits that might have triggered the heart attack
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Sense of uncertainty about the future
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

How to Reduce Depression and Brighten the Mood?

There are some popular practices to help people brighten their mood and feel happiness. For example:

  • Embrace nature by going outdoors and getting into the sunlight
  • Exercise
  • Expressive Arts Therapy (e.g., art therapy, music therapy, sound healing, sand tray, drama therapy)
  • Gentle yoga or stretching
  • Journaling
  • Meditation/Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep) or iRest (The modern adaptation of yoga Nidra which was founded by Dr. Richard Miller)
  • Breathing techniques (e.g., Bellows breath, Breath of Joy, Unilateral right nostril breathing, Stairway Breath)
  • Expressing gratitude (e.g., create a gratitude journal, write gratitude notes to others, take pictures of things you feel grateful for)
  • Eat healthier
  • Reward your efforts
  • Seek help and talk to your doctor
  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Spend time with your pet
  • Volunteer at local community organizations (e.g., church groups, animal shelters)

The Importance of Emotional Support

People need each other’s emotional support. Colberg et al. shared a report that patients who were socially isolated or who lacked a close confidant were more likely to die after a heart attack than those with adequate social support. Many cardiac patients also report that their interaction with staff and other patients is one of the most valued experiences during their cardiac rehab journey.

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