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Coping With Depression

Depression - How Depression Hurts Your Heart
 by: Stacey Colino
 As if feeling bad weren’t enough, negative emotions could be harming your heart. Over time, persistent blues, anxiety or anger can increase the risk of heart disease—or make an existing condition worse. “Psychosocial factors are increasingly recognized as important predictors of heart disease,” says Richard Stein, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and author of "Outliving Heart Disease." “Depression is right up there with high cholesterol, smoking and high blood pressure as risk factors for heart attack.” Hostility and anxiety, says Dr. Stein, aren’t far behind.

The Mood-Heart Link
On one level, it’s as simple as taking care of yourself:
People who are depressed, angry, anxious or highly stressed
are less likely to eat healthfully, exercise regularly, quit
smoking or take their medication as directed. But negative
thoughts and feelings may also harm the heart more directly.
Depression and anxiety disorders can alter heart rhythms,
raise blood pressure and increase blood-clotting factors.
Meanwhile, the “stress” hormones norepinephrine, epinephrine
and cortisol—often released in abundance when people are
depressed or angry—may increase such heart disease risk
factors as inflammation and insulin resistance, notes Edward
Suarez, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke
University’s school of medicine in Durham, NC.

Blood pressure is part of another mood-heart link. Studies
show that some people react to stress or anger with spikes in
blood pressure, which over the years increases their risk of
atherosclerosis, the main cause of heart attacks. The
turbulent blood flow during these spikes may damage blood
vessel walls and make a person more susceptible to plaque
buildup, says Richard Jennings, Ph.D., a professor of
psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh
School of Medicine.


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How to Feel Better
If you have persistent negative moods, it’s important to
lighten your emotional burdens. “Just living better and
feeling better is enough of a reason to treat these issues,”
says cardiologist Dr. Stein. But it may also benefit your
heart: One study at the Stanford University School of Medicine
found that when depressed people who’d had a heart attack were
treated with antidepressants, they saw a significant decrease
in their risk of dying over the next two and a half years.

So if negative feelings begin to color your world dark blue or
angry red, talk to your doctor about whether you might benefit
from psychotherapy, a stress or anger-management program
and/or antidepressants. “Cardiologists and primary care
physicians are not trained to recognize these issues,” says
Dr. Stein. “To get the best care, you have to make this part
of the discussion.”

4 Ways to Lift Your Spirits

Walk. Incorporating 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise into each day isn’t just good for the heart, it helps treat depression—and may even prevent it from recurring.

Dine on fish. Eating Omega 3–rich seafood at least twice a week also confers double benefits, protecting the heart and, some preliminary studies have found, helping lift depression.

Engage. A good support system and social life help buffer you from the physiological effects of negative emotions.

Laugh. Rx: funny movies? Yes! Laughing regularly is associated with the healthier function of blood vessels, according to Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Sources: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, December 2005; Circulation, October 12, 2004 and February 1, 2005; Journal of the American Medical Association, December 20, 2000; Psychosomatic Medicine, November/December 1999 and November/December 2006; Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, February 2006.

Easing a broken heart and a troubled mind may take time, so
don’t get discouraged. Feeling well is worth the effort.


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Depression effects the body and can manifest symptoms including shortness of breath, stomach problems and Headache. Recent ressearch has found there may be a connection between depression and good bacteria in your intestines suggesting probiotics may play a role in managing depression. Not all depressed people look depressed and may even appear upbeat, happy and cheerful, in fact, someone who is alway smiling and always happy might be an indication they are just trying to smile their way through their depression. A normal healthy person will exibit a wider variety of emotions on a daily basis. As ironic as it may seem, the always smiling and always cheerful person could need help with their depression the most.