Based on research by Galatzer-Levy, Isaac, & Bonanno, George (2014), written by Mara Rowcliffe, BS.
Having a heart attack is scary and recovery can be a daunting process. Some people may feel overwhelmed and discouraged when attempting to make healthier lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of having another one. The good news is research is being done to understand the causes of increased risk of death in order to help prevent it.
Psychologists Isaac Galatzer-Levy and George Bonanno assessed the course of depression in relation to heart attacks. They evaluated 2,147 older adults by looking at any depression symptoms from six years before their first reported heart attack to four years after. Results revealed that participants who developed depression after their first heart attack were significantly more at risk to dying than those individuals who did not have depression. Participants who demonstrated depression prior to their first heart attack followed by recovery after their heart attack were not at increased risk for death.
Developing depression following a heart attack increases your risk for death. If you have had a heart attack and are struggling emotionally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a mental health professional or join a post-operative support group. It may save your life!
Galatzer-Levy, I. R., & Bonanno, G. A. (2014). Optimism and Death Predicting the Course and Consequences of Depression Trajectories in Response to Heart Attack. Psychological science, 25(12), 2177-2188.