Most people feel sad once in a while — that’s a normal part of life. But sometimes this can turn into a clinical depression, which is a painful and treatable health condition. People with coronary artery disease are at greater risk for having clinical depression. Depression increases the risk of developing heart disease and can even make heart disease worse. So it is important to know if you are depressed and get the right treatment for it.
What depression looks like
The two main signs of depression are: low, sad mood, and/or loss of enjoyment and pleasure or interest, most days for at least two weeks. In fact depression can last much longer than two weeks, and involve many of the following symptoms:
- major loss or gain of appetite or weight, not explained by other causes
- trouble sleeping or sleeping more than normal
- change in activity, being nervous or slowed (movement, speech, etc.)
- general feeling of tiredness and low energy
- feeling guilty and no longer believing in yourself
- having trouble concentrating or paying attention
- having trouble organizing, making decisions or plans
- feeling hopeless
- frequent thoughts of death (with or without a plan).
Everyone feels depression differently. Some people feel hopeless and suicidal; some do not. But in all cases, it is important to recognize and treat depression. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Depression is not a flaw, and doesn’t make you a less important person. If you are suffering from depression, you may feel guilty because you can’t explain what is happening to you. Feeling guilty is one of the symptoms of depression.
Try not to feel ashamed. Talk to your family doctor or cardiologist about how you are feeling and the treatments that might help. A combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy is generally recognized to be the best form of treatment for depression. Each of these should be administered by a qualified and experienced mental health professional.
What can I do to get better from depression?
- Learn as much as you can about depression.
- Stick to a healthy lifestyle as much as you can. Eat a heart-healthy diet at regular times. Exercise or be active every day.
- Keep up a healthy routine in your life. Get out of bed and get dressed around the same time every morning – and stay up. Make sure you wash, brush your teeth and take care of your skin, hair and body. Respect yourself.
- Take care of your sleeping habits. Go to bed at a regular time every night.
- Reduce or avoid alcohol and tranquillizers.
- Be good to yourself. Be proud of your strengths and accept what you can’t do.
- Stay connected with family and friends.
- Do at least one fun thing each day.
Karen Narraway’s heart disease was labelled as anxiety and depression slowed her recovery. Read her story.