How a heart attack can trigger PTSD

 by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

This guest post was originally posted online by Holly Strawbridge of Harvard Health Publications on June 25, 2012.

Joep Roosen Amsterdam A heart attack is a life-changing event. For some people, surviving a heart attack brings renewed appreciation for life. For others, the event is so traumatic that worrying about having a second heart attack consumes their lives.

By the latest account, one in eight heart attack survivors experiences a reaction called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although PTSD is usually associated with extreme trauma such as war, rape or a natural disaster, heart attack survivors can experience the same key symptoms: flashbacks that occur as nightmares or intrusive thoughts. As a result, the survivor actively tries to avoid being reminded of the event and becomes hyper-vigilant worrying that it will happen again.  

It’s a high price to pay for having your life spared.   Continue reading “How a heart attack can trigger PTSD”

Six personality coping patterns that influence how you handle heart disease

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

As regular readers already know, I like to include the work of cardiac psychologist Dr. Wayne Sotile on this site, mostly because what he writes about the psychological challenges of heart disease and recovery rings so true for me since my own heart attack.

His 1992 book Heart Illness and Intimacy: How Caring Relationships Aid Recovery looks at the profound impact that the stresses of heart disease can have on patients, spouses and children.

The interesting chapter called The Personality Factor: Can We Change? explores how our personalities and coping patterns can often determine how we’ll react to a life-changing cardiac event.

Based on the 1987 pioneering work of Stewart and Joines on Transactional Analysis, Sotile outlines in this chapter the six basic coping patterns that seem to drive our perceptions, our behavioural choices, and our corresponding emotional reactions to both everyday life and to a chronic and progressive diagnosis like heart disease. He explains:

“These six personality drivers become especially influential in shaping our reactions during stressful times like a serious illness.”

I recognized myself in more than one factor on this list. The six personality coping patterns are:  Continue reading “Six personality coping patterns that influence how you handle heart disease”