A Matter Of The Heart: Cardiovascular Disease And Depression

Medical consultant holding hand of patient
Image credit: photo by Arvin Chingcuangco on Unsplash.

It’s long been known that a broken heart could leave you depressed. But data complied over the past decade seems to indicate that depression can lead to a different kind of heartbreak - namely, cardiovascular illness and heart attacks.

Depression And The Heart

The relationship between depression and cardiovascular illness is complicated. Like the question of the chicken and the egg, it’s hard to determine whether heart disease causes depression, or depression causes heart disease. The data seems to indicate that both are quite possible.

Depression increases the risk of heart disease by 1.5-2 times in otherwise healthy individuals; stress leads to high blood pressure, damage to blood vessels, and a weakened immune system. It increases the risk of blood clots, and the risk of heart attack increases significantly.

For those who have already suffered a heart attack, depression aggravates the existing risks and might even be related to the experience.

Up to 15% of people with cardiovascular disease experience major depression. One study shows that the presence of depression in the 6 months after a heart attack causes the risk of mortality to jump to 17%, up from 3%.

The Heart Of The Matter

Depression often goes unrecognized in its connection to a heart attack. However, early detection and treatment can improve one’s health - mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually - immensely.

The feelings of hopelessness, a lack of motivation, and social withdrawal associated with depression can impede recovery for someone who has experienced a heart attack.

By addressing the depression, many of these symptoms, as well as physical symptoms - such as fatigue, body aches, sluggishness, high blood pressure, and weakened immune system - can be alleviated. In promoting a healthier mind, you promote a healthier body - and give your heart a chance to heal.


It is extremely important for someone with heart disease to take care of their physical and mental well-being. Remember to consult a doctor regarding any treatment for your symptoms. If you suffer from depression, the help of a psychotherapist can begin the process of working through it. Contact Nassau Guidance & Counseling at (516) 221-9494 today for more information.

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