28/04/2015 Written by Margaret Ahern, Cardiac Educator, Darwin
Sometimes the emotional turmoil after a cardiac event is more upsetting than the actual physical condition. After, when we get back to normal life, we often wonder “how come I don’t quite feel right?” Often family or friends notice changes in moods, increased anxiety and are often not sure of how they can help.
The good news is that these feelings are common and normal, especially for 6-8 weeks after a heart attack or heart surgery. 1 out of 5 people can suffer depression following a heart attack
What are normal feelings after a cardiac event?
- Feelings of depression
- Higher levels of anxiety than normal
- Shock – I can’t believe it happened to me
- Feeling afraid - will I get back to normal life?
- Denial – I want to forget this has happened
- Angry – why me?
- We lose confidence (not wanting to do things in case we have another heart attack)
- Feeling sad and miserable
- Relief that we have had heart problem diagnosed and treated
Common behaviours noticed with these feelings:
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Crying easily
- Short tempered and moody
- Withdrawing not wanting to mix with family and friends
- Sleep disturbances
- Change in sex drive
- Lack of concentration, forgetful
- Vivid dreams and nightmares
- Anxiety – will it happen again?
What can I do?
- Talk to partner, friends or family
- Take one day at a time initially; there will be good days and bad days
- Attend a cardiac rehabilitation program near you
- Take at least 30 minutes out daily to relax
- Write down how you feel, this helps to process feelings
- Exercise daily: good for physical and mental well being
- It is often a time of reevaluating your life and lifestyle. Prioritise things and work through them systematically
- Talk to a counselor if you find you have many decisions to make
- If you are worried that these feelings are impacting on you and your family see your doctor
Depression is common after a heart problem. It is treatable and can often be short term. The big message is: don’t ignore how you feel.
Some websites and contacts that may be useful:
www.lifeline.org.au Ph: 13 11 14
Published on Territory Way edition 116 | June 2015. For more Territory Way Articles please click here