Recognising emotional changes

Feeling a bit down, flat or worried all the time? It’s common to feel like this after a heart attack. Find out more about the emotional side of your recovery.

Psychologist Marie Young, talks about managing depression, anxiety and panic attacks after your heart event.

Having a heart attack can impact on you physically and emotionally. Recovering physically is often the focus. However, your emotional recovery also takes time. It's common to experience low mood and worry as you start to make sense of what has happened.

Low mood is common

Almost everyone has times during their life when they feel down, and this is particularly common when you've just had a heart attack.

When you get home from hospital, you may experience the 'cardiac blues', where things you used to enjoy seem pointless. You may feel:

  • uncertain
  • fearful
  • lonely
  • isolated. 

Even with your friends and family/whānau. This is a common part of recovery. The unhelpful thoughts and feelings tend to pass.

It can be helpful to make a list of things that will keep you busy. Set a time for them and do them, even if you can't see the point. Don't stop doing things you used to enjoy, even if you feel you can't be bothered.

At the start of your recovery you may notice extreme emotional highs and lows. This can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. Over time these emotions tend to balance out. If unhelpful thoughts and feelings last for weeks or months, you may be experiencing anxiety or depression.

There is support to help with this. Talk to your doctor, nurse or someone you trust about what’s going on.

  • Talk to your doctor about local support
  • Ask your doctor about the possibility of a referral to a psychologist or counsellor
  • Visit depression.org.nz for online tools and support

Want to find out how other people have coped after a heart attack?

Read their personal stories