Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
After a Heart Attack
What does depression have to do with my
As many as 65% of
people who have a heart attack report feeling depressed. Women, people who have
been depressed before and people who feel alone and without social or emotional
support are at a higher risk for feeling depressed after a heart attack.
Being depressed can make it harder for
you to recover. However, depression can be treated.
What is depression?
Depression is a medical illness,
like diabetes or high blood pressure. The symptoms of depression can include the
- Feeling sad or crying often (depressed mood)
- Losing interest in daily activities that used to
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
- Feeling agitated, cranky or sluggish
- Loss of energy
- Feeling very guilty or worthless
- Problems concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
How will I know if I am
People who are
depressed have most or all of the above symptoms nearly every day, all day, for
2 or more weeks. One of the symptoms must be depressed mood or loss of interest
in daily activities.
If you have some
or all of the above symptoms, see your family doctor. Your doctor will ask you
questions about your mood. He or she may have you fill out a short questionnaire
about how you are feeling.
Depression can be
treated by a combination of three things:
- Medicine -- Depression can be
caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medicines can correct this
imbalance. If your doctor prescribes an antidepressant medicine for you, follow
your doctor's advice on how to take it. These medicines might take a few weeks
to start working, so be patient. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor before you
stop taking any medicine or if you have unusual symptoms.
- Changing Thoughts -- How you
think about yourself and your life can play a part in depression. For example,
you might become more depressed when you start to think negatively. Counseling
can help you identify and stop negative thoughts and replace them with more
logical or positive thinking. Many people and their families benefit from
counseling or "talk therapy."
- Becoming More Active -- Many
times people feel depressed because they're inactive and aren't involved in
social and recreational activities. Your mood will likely improve when you begin
a hobby or recreational activity. Interacting more with other people and
beginning an exercise program will also help improve your mood. Many people who
have had a heart attack benefit physically and mentally from a cardiac
rehabilitation program. Talk to your doctor about the kinds of activities and
exercise programs that are suited for you.