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How to Take Care of Your Depression After a Heart Attack

Having depression after suffering from a heart attack is hard as you almost died and you feel like the same thing could happen to you again. The same can be the other way around in which, according to the Heart and Vascular Institute at John Hopkins Medicine, people with depression are more likely to have a heart attack later on than those who do not have a mental illness. By taking care of your depression after a heart attack, the less likely you will have to go through that experience again. 

Depression Assessment

When it is time for your annual checkup, your primary care doctor may conduct a depression assessment. If you are currently experiencing symptoms of depression, do not wait until your annual checkup to get it done. How your assessment will work is your doctor will ask you questions about your depression like when it started, how often you feel sad, and what steps you are taking to treat it. This will help see if you are experiencing depression or symptoms that seem similar to depression. Also, having depression means that this sadness has stayed with you for over two weeks. Letting your doctor know about this will help them determine whether or not you have depression. 

Cardiac Rehabilitation 

Cardiac rehabilitation is when you learn how to eat healthy when you have heart disease. This can mean avoiding unhealthy fats and sodium. You may be recommended to eat more plant-based foods like vegetables, fish, legumes, olive oil, and grains. A supervisor will help you determine the right kind of exercise that will work best for you. The results will be even more beneficial if this is done in a group setting as you can encourage and be encouraged by others who are trying to better their heart and depression as well. This will help motivate you to keep going.

Heart Medications

When people who have a heart attack are depressed, they tend not to take their heart medications even though it could help them. Taking the right medication and making the right lifestyle changes will enrich your heart. If you are having trouble committing to your treatment plan, talk to your doctor about this as you might need to try a new medication or a new course of treatment.


Exercising after recovering from a heart attack will not only be good for your heart, but you will release feel-good endorphins that will help ease your depression. It is best to start small and work your way up gradually. It can be going for a walk for half an hour in the beginning and then a jog or a run after. If you feel like you are experiencing a heart attack or a stroke, stop your exercising and speak to a doctor. It can mean symptoms like feeling lightheaded, chest pain, or nausea.


You may feel like you cannot speak to anyone about your heart attack because people in your social circle have not had one. This can cause you to isolate yourself which will make your depression worse. By speaking to a therapist, you will be able to work through your feeling and relieve your depressive symptoms. A therapist will also tell you whether or not you should seek psychiatric help to be prescribed medication. Be patient when it comes to finding a good therapist. You can also your doctor as well as family and friends for recommendations. You can also check which therapists come highly recommended who are under your health insurance.

Lose Weight

Being overweight can not only lead to heart issues but can also be a good reason why you are depressed. Your cardiologists might put you on a weight loss plan to prevent the chances of getting another heart attack. If it has been a few months and you are still not losing weight, ask your doctor about changing your diet by keeping track of what foods you are eating too little or too much. A doctor can put you on a diet that will be good for your heart based on your personal needs.


Depending on how severe or how long you have had depression since your heart attack, it is possible that a doctor may prescribe you antidepressants. Popular ones include Xanax, Zoloft, and Paxil. Doctors can help you figure out which drug will work best for you as well as any side effects to take caution of. Remember to be patient once you start taking the medication as it can take at least a month to start working. 

Mindfulness Techniques

Doing mindfulness techniques like yoga, tai chi, reiki, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help you stay in the present moment and help you figure out what is causing you stress. It also has the benefit of lowering your blood pressure which will decrease the risk of heart issues. All it takes is 15 minutes a day to start feeling the positive effects all in the privacy of any room in the house. If doing techniques like yoga is too hard for you, consider taking a class with a licensed yoga teacher. Make sure to let the teacher know about your recent heart attack so that they can gently guide you through the movements. By taking all of these steps to ensure that your heart stays beating and healthy, your mental health will be healthy as well. 


Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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