Tag Archives: Dr. David Burns

How heart patients can untwist that twisted thinking

10 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

The freshly-diagnosed heart patient has plenty of opportunity to start thinking thoughts that are new, bizarre and sometimes even frightening. Any life-altering diagnosis can throw us off-balance emotionally, but with heart disease, even the tiniest twinge of new chest pain can paralyze us. Is this something? Is it nothing? Should I call 911 again? As Australian cardiac psychologist (and more importantly, a heart patient) Len Gould likes to say: “Before a heart attack, every twinge is just indigestion. After a heart attack, every twinge is another heart attack!”

And our worried thoughts can stick around far longer than they should, as we play them over and over and over like our first Beatles album. Mental health professionals call this kind of twisted thinking cognitive distortion. Continue reading

10 non-drug ways to treat situational depression in heart patients

5 Aug

by Carolyn Thomas

I’ve written quite a lot here about my own debilitating experience with depression following my heart attack.(1) I have since learned that post-heart attack depression is alarmingly common – and alarmingly under-diagnosed – among women survivors. Mayo Clinic cardiologists report that up to 65% of us experience significant symptoms of depression, yet fewer than 10% are appropriately identified.

NYU Women’s Heart Program cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg says women under age 60 are particularly susceptible to depression because a heart attack is such a major psychological trauma, especially when it occurs at a younger age. Studies show, she adds, that depression is an important risk factor for adverse outcomes in cardiac event survivors:

“It’s a life-changing, stressful event. It’s a shocking experience. There are constant concerns among survivors about whether they are going to be able to return to their usual life.”

Continue reading