Having a heart attack, heart surgery or being diagnosed with a heart condition is a frightening experience. Even if your doctor says you’re OK, you may still be afraid. This is normal. Anxiety, depression and fear of death are all very common and to be expected. However, there are ways to recognise and manage these fears so you can learn to cope to ensure you have a good recovery.
• How will this affect my life?
• Will I be able to get back to work again?
• Will it happen again?
• Am I going to die?
• Why did it happen to me and why now?
• You may feel that you can no longer do the things you used to do – that you’re not the same person anymore
• Some patients and/or their family members may feel that they are responsible for something that caused the attack or condition.
Fear, anxiety, anger, guilt and depression are all common feelings that you and your family may find particularly hard to deal with after a heart event. It is important to know that these feelings are common and openly discussing them (with your partner, family, friend, doctor, nurse, other cardiac patients) often helps. It is just as important that you manage how your mind feels as well as how your body feels in ensuring you have a full recovery.
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.
Some Common Symptoms of Anxiety, Stress or Depression
Talk to your partner, family members or a friend; emotional support is very important
Learn ways to manage daily stress. Link to How to manage stress on our website
Discuss with your doctor or nurse
Discuss in a cardiac rehabilitation programme; Listening to others and sharing your experiences and feelings with other people in a similar situation can also help you work through and cope with feelings of fear and anxiety
Contact your local hospital for information about a cardiac rehabilitation programme or download the PDF here [PDF 1MB]
Find a heart support group in your area to join. Click here [PDF 446KB] to find a list of cardiac clubs affiliated with The Heart Foundation
Seek help from a professional counsellor
Text The Lowdown team for free on 5626; They can listen to your story, and come up with ideas about what might help. They can also put you in touch with health professionals close to where you live, if that’s what you want
Call the Depression Helpline on 0800 111 757
Or for more information you can visit the following websites:
This site supported by the Ministry of Health provides lots of information for people who have depression, think they may have depression and their families
This site is designed for youths who may be suffering with depression
Managing how you feel is just as important to a full recovery as managing the physical issues.