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After you have had a heart attack you may feel stressed, and you could experience depression or anxiety

Depression or anxiety often go hand in hand, and are common after a heart attack, especially when you just arrive home from the hospital. Learning to recognise symptoms of anxiety and depression may help you to manage these concerns. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others experience many.

Managing how you feel is equally as important to a full recovery as managing the physical issues.

Want help now?

Visit the Mental Health Foundation www.mentalhealth.org.nz and www.depression.org.nz

Knowing when to seek help for depression. How symptoms of a 'panic attack' can be mistaken for a heart attack and how beneficial relaxation can be in managing tension and anxiety.

People experience depression and anxiety in many different ways.
Do any of these sound like you?

I don’t enjoy things like I used to
I can’t make decisions
I’ve lost my appetite
I feel restless
I feel sad and tearful
I feel bad tempered, grumpy and miserable
I’ve no energy
I feel tired all the time
I feel weak, short of breath, sweaty and shaky
I just want to sleep all the time
I feel tense
I get sudden feelings of intense fear or dread
I’m afraid to be left alone
I feel butterflies in my stomach
I spend most of my time worrying
I eat all the time
I don’t want to go out
I can’t concentrate

Hover over the red dots to view signs and symptoms

Depression and anxiety are a perfectly normal part of recovery

However, if negative thoughts and feelings persist talk to your doctor, nurse or someone you trust about what’s going on – you don’t have to put up with these emotions. There are things that you can do to cope with depression and anxiety and to help you enjoy life again.

In severe cases depression can cause thoughts to become badly distorted, so that everything is seen as negative. This can lead to people feeling desperate, having thoughts about harming themselves or even suicide.

How to get help

Depression can feel overwhelming. If you are feeling down or anxious after your heart attack, talk to your doctor or nurse. They may refer you to online support or a psychologist or counsellor who can help you talk through some of your concerns. Some people may benefit from taking medication.

 Managing depression and anxiety

One of the best ways to cope with depression and anxiety is to regain balance in your life and structure your day. For example, each day:

  • Do some form of physical activity
  • Have some rest and relaxation time
  • Do some form of work where you feel useful, productive and gain a sense of achievement
  • Include some enjoyable activities – especially those that make you laugh
  • Get plenty of sleep as this is the time when your body and mind are restored. Relaxation exercises may be help you to improve your sleep.

It also helps to talk with others – your family, friends and people who have gone through a similar experience.

Sharing the experience helps as it lets you know that you are not alone.
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Talk to someone about depression and anxiety

Did you know?

Depression is 3 times more common in patients after a heart attack than in the general population

I never thought much about my heart but now I know it is my engine.Keith
Keith
Everything is dependent on my heart, mechanically, electrically, physiologically, emotionally and passionately. Whatever happens it all comes back to how well your heart performs in all areas.Helen Thompson-Carter
Helen Thompson-Carter

Continue the journey

Stress
Managing stress effectively can play a positive role
Read more
Relaxation
Learn about the benefits and some relaxation techniques
Read more

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