Depression After a Heart Attack
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or harming others.
What does depression have to do with my heart attack?
Depression is common after a heart attack. As many as 1 out of every 3 people who have a heart attack report feelings of depression. Women, people who have had depression before, and people who feel alone and without social or emotional support are at a higher risk of depression after a heart attack.
Many people who have depression don’t recognize it, seek help or get treatment. Being depressed can make it harder for you to recover physically. However, depression can be treated.
What is depression?
Depression is a medical illness, just like diabetes or high blood pressure. The emotional and physical symptoms of depression include some or many of the following:
- Feeling sad or crying often (depressed mood)
- Losing interest in daily activities that used to be fun
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
- Despair, hopelessness, agitation, or anxiety
- Loss of energy
- Feeling very guilty or worthless
- Problems concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Physical complaints that are unresponsive to treatment
How will I know if I am depressed?
People who are depressed have symptoms from the above list nearly every day, all day, for 2 or more weeks. Depressed mood and loss of interest in daily activities are two of the most common symptoms.
If you have some or all of the symptoms of depression, contact your care healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your symptoms, your health and your family’s history of health problems.
How is depression treated?
Depression can be treated with medicine, counseling or both.
Depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medicines called antidepressants can address this imbalance. If your healthcare provider prescribes an antidepressant medicine for you, follow their advice on how to take it. Your healthcare provider will prescribe an antidepressant that should not interfere with your heart condition. These medicines can take a few weeks to start working, so be patient. Also, be sure to contact your healthcare provider before you stop taking any medicine or if you have any unusual symptoms.
How you think about yourself and your life can also play a part in depression. Counseling can help you identify and stop negative thoughts and replace them with more logical or positive thinking. Many people who are depressed, and their families, benefit from counseling.
What else can I do to help myself feel better?
Often people feel more depressed because they are inactive and aren’t involved in social and recreational activities. You may find that participating in a hobby or recreational activity improves your mood. Interacting more with other people or taking part in an exercise program can also help you feel better. Many people who have had a heart attack benefit physically and mentally from a cardiac rehabilitation program. Talk to your healthcare provider about what kinds of activities and exercise programs are right for you.
Does treatment for depression usually work?
Yes. Treatment helps between 80% and 90% of people with depression.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Mental Health Mobile Crisis Line (Nova Scotia)
Toll Free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Island Helpline (Prince Edward Island)
Toll free, 24 hours a day 1-800-218-2885
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Nova Scotia Toll free 1-800-423-4432
Prince Edward Island: (902) 892-7441
Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation Website at:
American Heart Association