depression, heart disease and exercise
Heart events, surgeries and diagnoses can be significant and quite distressing experiences, both physically and emotionally. It is normal to feel sad, angry, anxious, guilty, lonely, confused, stressed, overwhelmed or fatigued. These feelings are a normal part of your recovery and can last hours, days or even weeks and is often termed ‘cardiac blues’. If these feelings last longer than a couple of weeks, it is important you tell your doctor so that they can help you manage and cope with your emotions in a productive way.
Depression is an independent risk factor for the development and progression of cardiovascular disease as well as death from cardiovascular disease [Reference 1]. As such, it is important to recognise and appropriately manage your emotional, psychological and social responses, as well as your physical health.
recognise the symptoms
Take a moment to think about how you felt in the days and weeks after your cardiac event, surgery or procedure? Have you, or did you, noticed any of the following symptoms?
- Persistent negative feelings such as low mood or not enjoying things you once use to
- Finding it difficult to engage in your recovery due to lack of motivation or confidence
- Significant difficulty with your daily routine, social activities and / or work (including not going out as much as you used to)
- Any suicidal thoughts or feelings (if you have experienced this, please call MHERL**)
**MHERL = Mental Health Emergency Response Line on 1300 555 788
sadness versus depression
Sadness is how people respond to a loss (of identity, role or independence) so it is a normal and expectable emotional response to a heart attack. This feeling will typically resolve as you adapt to a new normal and find new meaning and satisfaction.
On the other hand, depression goes above and beyond sadness and can be felt as an overwhelming grief or sense of hopelessness. It can affect your sleep, appetite, energy levels and your general ability to enjoy even the little things in life. Depression can impact your ability to function in your daily and work life and requires treatment.
Effective treatments for depression include cognitive behavioural therapy (talking therapy), medications and exercise. A recent study conclude that regular exercise is more effective than doing nothing and may be as effective as psychological therapy or medications [Reference 2].
tips for coping with depression
- Get dressed every day
- Practice stress management and relaxation techniques
- Get out and walk daily (sunshine is great for your mental and physical health)
- Follow your prescribed exercise program
- Ask your health care provider about a cardiac rehab program (or get in in contact with us)
- Get back to the hobbies and social activities you enjoy
- Talk to someone (spouse, friend or family member) about how you’re feeling – many hands make light work
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals
- Avoid harmful and unhelpful coping strategies such as smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, using drugs or overeating
- Find a support group
- Join a group challenge of activity to help raise awareness and funds
- The Push-Up Challenge
The Push-Up Challenge aims to push for better mental health [Reference 5]. Join the challenge or create / join a team to complete 3,318 push-ups over 25 days this June. Get fit, have fun, learn about mental health!
reducing the stigma
There is a lot of stigma associated with mental health conditions such as depression but we are hoping to eliminate this. Depression is as serious as a heart attack and should be treated as such. No more burying our heads in the sand. It’s time to stand tall and show our support for everyone and anyone who may be suffering. We are here to listen, to provide support and help you get your life back on track. All you have to do is ask.
Want an exercise program that you can do from the comfort of your own home? We can help.
Want to come in for group classes to be accountable and have regular contact with other people with heart conditions as well as friendly and experienced health professionals? We can help with that to.
So, the real question is, are you ready to get back to a healthier, happier you? Contact us to chat about your options and we can guide you on the right (easy, simple and fun) path.
Need help or guidance? Book in for a one-on-one consultation with us to find out what’s best for you and your health.
Can’t get to us? Read our Telehealth Blog to find out if this option suits you better.