Being diagnosed with heart disease or experiencing a heart attack can drastically alter one's life. And, it can be challenging emotionally to make necessary lifestyle changes to live a life that is heart-healthy.
As a Doctoral Candidate in Psychology and also providing AHA Instruction to both providers and Instructors, I am always interested in reading correlations between mental and physical health as well as the causes and prevention.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has some wonderful suggestions including the altering of eating habits, managing stress and following the treatment plan prescribed by one's healthcare provider. However, we all know that trying to manage stress can be overwhelming. The APA has suggested that Psychologists can assist individuals people with heart disease find ways to make these lifestyle changes and address reactions such as anxiety and depression.
Interestingly, according to the American Heart Association 33 percent of heart attack patients develop some degree of depression. Symptoms of depression like fatigue and feelings of worthlessness can cause people to ignore their treatment and engage in unhealthy behaviors such as overeating or refusing to take medications. Studies show treating depression makes it easier for people with heart disease to follow long-term treatment plans and make appropriate changes to their lifestyle.
If you or a family member might be experiencing subtle changes in motivation or enthusiasm for life and have also recently experienced cardiovascular stress; this might be a good time to also seek mental health treatment in order to re-align your life.
Tracy A. Jones is an American Heart Association, ASHI, and American Red Cross Master Program Trainer, Instructor, & AHA Faculty Member located in San Antonio, Texas.