From the Heart: How Emotions Affect Your Health (Heart Health)
Can your emotions cause a heart attack? There’s evidence that it’s true; many studies report a connection between heart attacks and stress. In addition, the most commonly reported heart attack “trigger” is an emotionally upsetting event, especially one that involves anger. Emotions can also affect how your body responds after a heart attack. People with higher levels of stress and anxiety tend to have more trouble recovering.
Depression, too, is common in both women and men after a heart attack. If you’ve had a heart attack and find yourself feeling depressed or “blue” for a long time afterward, talk to your doctor about ways to get help. Also keep in mind that support from family, friends, and even other people who’ve experienced heart problems, can help to improve your mood and your adjustment to the recovery process.
The good news is that you can take some action to protect yourself before and after a heart attack. Regular physical activity not only relieves stress and depression, but also can directly lower your risk of heart disease. Recent research also shows that participating in a stress management program following a heart attack lessens the chances of further heart-related problems. Stress management programs, as well as support groups for heart patients, can also help you develop new ways of handling life’s challenges.
Much remains to be learned about the links between stress, depression, and heart disease, but a few things are clear: Staying physically active, developing a diverse circle of supportive people in your life, and sharing your feelings and concerns with them can help you to be happier and live longer.