I’d like to talk for a few minutes about Cardiac Depression. Prior to James diagnosis I attempted to prepare myself for any curve ball that may be in our future thru this journey. I knew that there was a possibility of many things happening post operative, main ones being in the first 30 days. I would now have to watch out for stroke symptoms, heart attack symptoms and depression (depression didn’t hit the top of my watch list because of the happy guy I knew James to be, that couldn’t happen to us!). Do your research early and if you believe your loved one is beginning to show signs of depression, have the conversation with your Dr and find ways to combat it together.
The following is just some information for Cardiac Depression that I could find online after reading multiple articles and putting together consistencies. I’m bringing this up now for reasons you will read further down our journey but I felt the need to stress the importance for those of you that may still be in the pre operative side of things. Be aware Cardiac Depression does exist and as we know of life, it doesn’t ask for permission to happen to you or your spouse during this journey. Stay positive for each other, love each other and encourage each other every day. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, all we have is today.
While about 1 in 20 American adults experience major depression in a given year, the number goes to about 1 in 3 for people who have survived a cardiac event .
Being overly tired, as well as less capable of performing the simplest of tasks and therefore being more dependent on others for basic care needs can be some of the factors that contribute to feelings of sadness and despair. Also, studies indicate that almost 50% of heart patients experience serious cognitive problems after heart surgery and this may also lend itself to clinical depression for some. Depression stemming from heart disease may make patients avoid rehabilitation exercises, taking their medication and socializing, all activities that would encourage and nurture their recovery.
Having heart disease or a new cardiac event can affect many aspects of a person’s life, including:
- Attitude and mood
- Sleep patterns
- Sense of certainty about the future
- Confidence in one’s ability to be productive
- Feelings of guilt about past habits that may have put them at higher risk for heart problems
- Embarrassment and self-doubt over diminished physical capabilities
Most heart patients can return to life as usual, but if depression becomes debilitating, then recovery may need to include mental health support. A 2012 study found that more than half of former cardiac intensive-care patients suffered from clinical levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or anxiety symptoms during recovery.
One of the biggest things I will stress on this is- YOU ARE NOT ALONE!. Try not to take things personal should your spouse show signs and symptoms of depression, pre or post operative. Celebrate the milestones, small and large! Love and encourage, reassure and comfort. Above all, take care of yourself too! Take small “time-outs” when you can to regain your sense of self. Its easy to get caught up in caring for the one you love to lose a sense of self in the journey. Small time outs will help you combat your own emotional depression and can even give your partner the break they may need, also.
Love will prevail.
I love you James! Everyday… every way.