Diagnosed with Depression? It Might Be Your Heart

Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: April 20, 2023

heart disease and depression tampa cardio

Depression isn’t just a bad mood or having an off day. Depression lingers and seeps into what feels like your very being. You can’t just shake it off and smile as so many would like you to do.

If you’ve ever experienced depression, you know that it can feel like you have a broken heart causing actually heaviness and even pain in the chest. While depression can feel like a broken heart the question becomes – can it, in fact, cause damage to the heart muscle?

Recent research has shown that it can work both ways.
1. Heart disease can cause feelings of depression
2. Depression can cause heart disease

Statistics to Consider

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States
  • 1 in 3 Americans will die from heart disease
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability throughout the entire world
  • 1 in 20 adults in America experiences major depression each year
  • 1 in 3 heart attack survivors experiences major depression each year
  • Those with a history of depression are 4 x more likely to experience a heart attack within 14 years than those who have no history of depression
  • Heart disease patients with depression are 4x  more likely to die within 6 months than those without depression

After reading these statistics regarding heart disease and depression, it is clear that heart disease and depression are related. The extent is a complex issue.

Let’s begin by examining the potential ways in which depression can lead to heart disease.

Have you ever heard the phrase “stress kills”? While this statement may seem a little overly dramatic, it does have a lot of bases in medical facts. When a person is overstressed chronically, the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released and the sympathetic nervous system is activated, oftentimes referred to as a person’s “fight or flight” response. When a person is depressed, it often results in a chronically elevated level of these hormones, a situation that can have detrimental effects on the heart over time.

On the flip side, depression has been known to occur as a result of heart disease. In one recent study, nearly half of all patients examined a week following a major heart disease surgery showed beginning signs of clinical depression.


While the relationship between heart disease and depression is still under investigation, one possible answer is that patients who have recently undergone major heart surgery tend to feel slow and sluggish, finding it difficult to get back into their regular routines. If their regular routines have been threatened by heart disease or they must change their lifestyles drastically in order to adjust to new health concerns, they will understandably start to feel a sense of discouragement and hopelessness.

Heart disease patients with depression often don’t receive the correct medical treatment in order to address both issues simultaneously.

This can in part be due to the actions of the patient directly, as depression can make it difficult for people to remember to take care of themselves, and patients may forget to take their medications or simply not feel the motivation to do so. Similarly, they may also lack the motivation and energy to even simply keep their follow-up appointments.

Furthermore, many cardiologists and primary care doctors simply don’t have the experience with or exposure to patients with mental illness the way psychiatrists and psychologists do and may not be able to properly recognize when a patient is experiencing depression. For this reason, heart disease patients with depression often get overlooked for their depression and aren’t effectively treated for it the way a patient seeking treatment for mental illness specifically would.

While there are still a lot of unknowns regarding the relationship between depression and heart disease, both conditions can be effectively treated with proper recognition and monitoring.

For compassionate cardiologists who care about the overall health of their patients and not just medical issues addressed by them specifically, contact the Tampa Cardiovascular Associates by calling (813) 975-2800 today. www.tampacardio.com.

Our physicians are always there for you and are happy to address any concerns you have related to your heart health or to refer you to a qualified mental health specialist.

The Take Away: If you have been diagnosed with clinical depression it is a good idea to see a cardiologist for an exam to rule out physical causations.


Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: 20/04/2023

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