In the past, the connection between heart health and mental health has been viewed as being strictly behavioural. For example, someone suffering from depression may seek relief from smoking, thus contributing to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Although links between cardiovascular disease and mental illness are not yet clear, research has shown that there may be psychological connections in addition to behavioural connections. The chemical and biological factors that trigger mental health issues could impact cardiovascular disease.
Various mental health illnesses may be related to heart disease. For example, depression and heart disease can go hand-in-hand. People who have depression may be at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and people who have suffered a heart attack or other cardiac event may be at a higher risk of developing depression. A heart attack can affect one’s mental health by causing a person to feel uncertain about the future, guilty about habits that may have increased their risk of a heart attack, or embarrassed. Furthermore, depression in individuals who are recovering from a heart attack can lead to decreased motivation to drop unhealthy habits. Stress caused from mental illnesses such as anxiety can increase hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can increase blood pressure and heart rate.
Ultimately, there is some evidence that a relationship between mental health and cardiovascular disease exists. Therefore, it is important for you to be aware of the effects that your mental health can have on your heart health. Here are a few things you can do to help manage this:
- Talk to Your Doctor – Discuss how you’re feeling both physically and mentally with your doctor.
- Seek Social Support – Whether you are recovering from a heart attack, working to prevent a heart attack, or living/supporting someone with another cardiovascular condition, social support is an important factor that can affect mental health. Social support can help increase your resilience to stress and improve overall mental and physical wellbeing. Tell a close family member or friend about how you’re feeling so they can help monitor your situation.
- Try to be Physically Active – Exercise releases chemicals in your brain that energize you and make you feel good! Exercise can also serve as a great distraction and allow you to have some time to yourself.
- Try to Cut Out Things that Cause You Stress – Making a few changes to your daily habits can help decrease stress and lessen the toll these stressors may be taking on your mental health. For example, reducing how much time you spend watching the news or your caffeine/alcohol intake are a few things that might enhance how you’re feeling.
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Depression and Heart Disease | Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/depression-and-heart-disease
Mental Health and Heart Health. (n.d.). Www.Heart.Org. Retrieved December 31, 2020, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/mental-health-and-heart-health