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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.

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

Low moods after a heart attack

Almost everyone has times during their life when they feel down. 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. 

You might feel this way even with your friends and family/whānau. This is a common part of recovery. The 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 don't feel like it. Don't stop doing things you used to enjoy, even if you feel you can't be bothered.

How to manage depression and anxiety after a heart attack

At the start of your recovery you may notice extreme emotional highs and lows. It can feel like an emotional rollercoaster. Over time these emotions tend to balance out. If negative 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 for online tools and support

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

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

What’s it like to have anxiety and depression after a heart attack?

Sunny tells his heart attack story and his experience of anxiety and depression.

Read stories from heart attack survivors