Heart Events and Depression: Understanding the Link

April 9, 2015| Health and Wellbeing /

A staggering one in five people will go on to develop depression after a heart event. This can affect their ability to make the lifestyle changes necessary to maintain their health. 

 

A cardiac event can have an enormous psychological impact. While modern diagnostic methods mean that disease is generally picked up and treated before it causes serious damage like a heart attack, discovering you have a heart problem and facing treatment is often no less confronting. 

“When something happens to your heart it strikes at the core of your existence and your sense of mortality,” says Anita Elberts, Cardiac Rehabilitation Physiotherapist at Epworth Camberwell. “Some patients develop a type of reactive depression, which is quite normal considering they’ve been through such a major life event.”

According to the Australian Centre for Heart Health, common symptoms people experience include a loss of interest in usual activities, withdrawal, being short-tempered or, at the other extreme, overly emotional and quick to tears, changes in appetite, sex drive and sleeping patterns and constant worry about another heart event. 

For some, these symptoms lift naturally over a few months. For others, they may still be present even a year down the track. Finding the motivation and confidence to make the changes necessary to live a full and active life can be much harder while in a depressed state.

If you’re depressed you’re less likely to be active, more likely to smoke, more likely to go for comfort foods high in fat with poor nutritional value and you’re less likely to take your medication.
— Anita Elberts, Physiotherapist, Epworth HealthCare

Attending a cardiac rehabilitation program is one of the best things patients can do to prevent or manage depression. 

At Epworth, everyone who participates in cardiac rehabilitation is screened for depression, anxiety and stress, and then connected with a psychologist if that’s what’s needed. Patients also learn and benefit from each other. 

“Even though a patient on the program has been treated, they’re not cured,” says Anita. “They still have cardiovascular disease and if they don’t manage their lifestyle and control their cardiac risk factors they’re going to end up back where they were. Sometimes just knowing you don’t have to deal with this by yourself can be an enormous help.”

The research shows that people who attend a cardiac rehabilitation program have better long-term health outcomes. Whether they’re incredibly self-motivated or need a little more support, a good program will teach them strategies and link them in with the resources they need to make changes and stick with them.

“Cardiac rehabilitation is the beginning of the rest of these people’s lives,” says Anita. “Seeing patients improve both physically and emotionally as a result of our program is so rewarding.” 



Epworth

Join the conversation on The Village



July 17, 2019| Our Community/

A Day in the Life at Epworth Clinic

We sat down with Maya, Director of Strategy and Operations, Karla, a Mental Health Social Worker and Rosie, a Clinical Nurse Educator from Epworth Clinic to talk about what it’s like in a day of an in-patient.

July 12, 2019| Our Community/

Team Recipes - Banoffee Pie

A recipe from one of our very own team members for this decadent, delicious English dessert. Perfect for entertaining in winter.

July 12, 2019| Health and Wellbeing/

Cervical Screening Tests

More accurate than the Pap smear the cervical screening test is paving the way forward for prevention and reduction in cervical cancer diagnosis.

July 5, 2019| Health and Wellbeing/

Breast Health Awareness

It’s the most common type of cancer in women, with 1 in 8 being diagnosed across Victoria alone. It’s time to talk seriously about breast awareness and cancer care.

July 4, 2019| Epworth News/

Epworth Wig Salon

For many women, losing their hair during cancer treatment can be like losing a part of their identity.

Epworth Healthcare’s wig salon aims to restore these women’s confidence and sense of self as they face the battle of their lives.