Mental health & emotions

Last updated 13 February 2017 — Last reviewed 15 January 2014

The impact on your emotional wellbeing when you have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or if you have had a heart attack or stroke can be significant. Managing cardiovascular disease if you are also struggling with depression and/or anxiety can be very challenging and it is important you seek information and help.

Developing angina, having a heart attack, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or stroke can impact on a woman's emotional wellbeing. And managing life with cardiovascular disease can be an emotional challenge.

Reactions

Often the emotions experienced after an event such as a heart attack or stroke are like the reaction we have to losing something or someone. This includes:

  • shock
  • disbelief
  • anger
  • frustration
  • sadness
  • numbness
  • fear
  • acceptance
  • determination every effort will be made to improve future health and lifestyle

The type and strength of your reaction to having cardiovascular disease, a heart attack, DVT or stroke can be affected by a number of things including:

  • whether it was a pre-existing condition
  • whether there was a warning
  • what happened
  • what information was given in the early days
  • the medical support available
  • the social support available
  • attitudes to having a serious health concern
  • whether any physical damage has been suffered
    (e.g. movement or speech may have been affected)
  • whether there was pre-existing depression and/or anxiety
  • attitudes and expectations in your culture and family

It will be important to talk about your feelings and your experience with your doctor or psychologist.

Depression & anxiety

Women can become depressed after having a heart attack, DVT or a stroke. Depression can then affect how well a woman manages the lifestyle changes that come with cardiovascular disease. There are many treatments available for depression and anxiety. Medicare provides rebates for seeing a psychologist for up to 10 sessions per year. So if you are depressed and worried about cardiovascular disease it is important to discuss this with your doctor.

Getting help

Having cardiovascular disease, including angina, a heart attack, DVT or stroke can change your view of your health. Suddenly you can't take your health for granted.

Daily living often changes. There may be changes to diet, more doctor visits and maybe the need to take medications or have medical procedures.

As for any health condition, the right information and support can help.

Getting information

There are a number of ways to get the right information for you:

  • You could ask for extra time with your doctor so you can ask all the questions you need to
  • Write questions down before you see your doctor so you remember what you want
  • Classes are available for those with cardiovascular disease (your doctor can refer you)

If you are worried about any aspect of your health, ask your doctor. No question is silly and it has probably been asked by many people before you.

Getting support

It's okay to ask friends and family for support and help. This can be hard when you have been used to looking after yourself, but if friends are asking to help you in some way, now is a good time to accept.

There are many treatments available for depression and anxiety. Medicare provides rebates for seeing a psychologist for up to 10 sessions per year. So if you are depressed and worried about cardiovascular disease it is important to discuss this with your doctor.

This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at January 2014.

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