A senior man who appears depressed, offering a reminder of the link between mental health and heart health.

Experiencing a heart attack changes life in an instant. What seemed important before the health crisis suddenly fades into the background, as the top priority becomes helping the weakened heart to heal. Life is then full of tests, following up with medical appointments, adjusting to new medications, and implementing dietary changes and an exercise regimen, all geared towards ensuring maximum physical health.

Yet it is equally important to pay close attention to mental health throughout the recovery process. While tending to all of the new to-dos, feelings of fear, frustration, anger, anxiety, and denial, among others, may settle in. It’s easy to understand how depression can manifest as well. As a matter of fact, mental health and heart health very often go hand in hand. Individuals with no history of depression are at risk to experience it after a heart condition, while individuals already struggling with depression are at a greater risk for heart problems.

Why Is Depression Common After a Heart Attack?

Heart-related illnesses can cause a person to experience a range of moods, including:

  • Self-doubt and questions about self-identity
  • Shame over lifestyle choices that could have caused the problem
  • Uncertainty about what the future holds
  • Embarrassment about the need for help
  • Low self-esteem
  • And more

These sorts of feelings lead to depression, which often impacts the person’s capacity to recover fully from the heart attack as they may:

  • Develop especially sticky platelets that accelerate hardening of the arteries
  • Elect to self-medicate through unhealthy eating, alcohol, smoking, etc.
  • Feel unmotivated to follow their doctor’s orders
  • Experience depression-related hormone changes that can cause cardiac arrhythmia

What Are the Signs of Depression?

Determine if any of these warning signs of depression are present after a heart incident:

  • Changes to sleeping habits
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Hopelessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest in once-loved activities
  • Restlessness or sluggishness
  • Difficulty with decision-making, memory, or focusing

If depression is suspected, speak with the physician as soon as possible. Effective treatment plans are available.

How Home Care Can Help

Healing after a heart attack is challenging enough, but adding in the effects of depression can make it seem impossible. Home care can assist in a variety of ways with both mental health and heart health recovery, with services such as:

  • Planning and preparing healthy meals
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Medication reminders to make sure meds are taken just as prescribed
  • Encouragement to stick to a prescribed exercise plan
  • Cheerful companionship for conversations and engaging distractions to brighten each day
  • Grocery shopping as well as other errands
  • And much more

Reach out to the Compassionate Nursing Services team at 314-432-4312 to request additional resources to help someone with heart disease, depression, or any other chronic health issue, and to discover more about our home health care services in Town and Country, Oakville, Creve Coeur, and the surrounding areas.