Coping with Depression

None of us are fully prepared to deal with a life-changing event. That is why developing effective coping skills is so important. Recognizing and discussing our emotional and physical reactions are essentials in effectively coping with a life-changing event like heart disease.

It is more common than not for you and/or your family members to feel sad, fearful or depressed when a diagnosis of heart disease is given. Depression may range from very mild, moderate, to severe forms of this condition depending upon the symptoms associated with each condition and the extent the condition interferes with your everyday functions. Depression may make it harder to take the medications needed and to carry out the treatment for heart disease.

Research over the past two decades has shown that depression and heart disease are common companions and, what is worse, each can lead to the other. Therefore, it is very important for a heart patient to discuss his or her concerns with the family physician.

Understanding how your illness affects you, and how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors influence your health are paramount to your recovery.

Coping Skills

  1. Avoid negative self-talk or self-pity.
  2. Maintain friendships. Do not let the illness isolate you completely.
  3. Fresh air is a great tonic. Sit in a chair. Absorb the sun’s rays, feel the breeze, listen to the sounds of nature.
  4. Counseling can help you deal with grief issues, depression, anger, financial stresses, etc.
  5. Be in control. Stop when you feel tired. Do not push yourself beyond that point. When you do that, the illness is in control, not you.
  6. Do not allow illness to become your sole identity.
  7. Do not allow others to upset you when they ask questions.
  8. Spend your energy wisely.
  9. Resting for 10 minutes gives you 20 minutes of energy. By forcing yourself to do more than your body can do makes the illness worse.
  10. Join a support group. Others know what you are going through. You are not alone. You can gain insight into your illness, its affects on you as well as share insights that may benefit others.
  11. Allow yourself grieving time. There are loses you need to come to terms with and it takes time.
  12. Set priorities. Make a list of what MUST be done, what you would like to do, and what doesn’t matter.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Significant increase or decrease in appetite
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in others or most activities
  • Feeling discouraged or worthless
  • A significant drop in performance in school or at work
  • Suicidal thoughts, feelings or self-harming behavior
  • Fatigue or loss of energy most of the time
  • Restlessness, fidgeting or pacing
  • Uncontrolled outbursts of crying
  • Feeling sad, helpless or hopeless most of the time
  • Episodes of fear, tension or anxiety
  • Frustration, irritability, emotional outbursts
  • Repeated physical complaints without pain in arms or legs
  • Abuse or increased use of alcohol or drugs