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”

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

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