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Depression and Heart Disease

by
William Stone RN MSN CNS

Overview

     We are creatures of habit. Depression occurs when we get stuck in habitual patterns that keep us unhappy. We are often unaware of the patterns, and don't think that things could be any different. These negative patterns are formed by an accumulation of specific unresolved events. Examples are physical and emotional shocks or traumas, and abandonments or losses (including loss of youth or health). Chronic frustrations and irritations can add sticky layers to the patterns. Changing patterns means changing the way energy flows through your life, and making different choices about how to spend your time (less news and more walks in nature?). Depression can increase the risk for heart disease, and heart disease can be depressing. It is often most effective to treat both at once. Life is too precious to let it slip miserably away because of harmful habits.

Treatment

  • Antidepressant medication is most effective when used in combination with psychotherapy or counseling to change the patterns of thinking and behavior. Medication changes brain chemistry, but not necessarily unconscious patterns that keep us unhappy.
  • Exercise is especially helpful (and likely to be done) when you find it enjoyable.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral therapy can help you to recognize and change negative patterns.
  • Connecting with others in meaningful ways provides opportunities to be useful and less preoccupied with your own problems. Love is a powerful healer.
  • Homeopathic or Flower remedies often help to change patterns without side effects.
  • Energy techniques such as "tapping" can change patterns that are locked into the body.
  • Nutrition and diet may play a role: include Omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, B3, B6 and B12.

Symtoms of Depression *

  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

* Compiled by the National Institute of Mental Health and included in the document "Depression" found online at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/summary.shtml