Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Depression is a medical condition that leads to intense feelings of sadness or despair. These feelings don’t go away on their own.
What is going on in the body?
Several factors can make a person feel depressed after a heart attack. The stress of being in the hospital, the fear of another heart attack, and the reality of having to make lifestyle changes can all contribute. If the person had to have bypass surgery, he or she will have to endure a long recovery period. This could include being out of work for up to six weeks.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
There are many theories about what causes depression. Depression may be caused by any of the following:
Risk factors for depression include the following:
Depression and heart attack have a complex relationship. People with a history of depression have a much higher incidence of heart attacks than people without depression. A person is more at risk for depression after a heart attack if he or she has suffered from depression in the past.
Symptoms & Signs
What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
Some symptoms are common in people of all ages with depression. These symptoms include the following:
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the condition diagnosed?
A person who shows signs of depression after a heart attack should have a comprehensive evaluation. The evaluation may include a medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests.
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the condition?
Depression may not be preventable. Following are some steps that may be helpful in preventing depression.
Depression can lead to suicide. It is important to recognize and treat the condition early. Individuals should be encouraged to talk to someone if they are concerned about depression. There are many people they can talk to, including the following:
What are the long-term effects of the condition?
Following a heart attack, people with depression are less healthy and functional than those without depression. Recent research findings include the following:
People who suffer from depression after a heart attack are less likely to make the lifestyle changes necessary to decrease the risk of another heart attack. These changes include the following:
What are the risks to others?
Depression is not contagious and poses no risk to others.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the condition?
The two most common ways of treating depression are with antidepressant medications and psychotherapy. Often a combination is used. Occasionally a person must be hospitalized for intense treatment or for his or her own safety.
Antidepressant medications are effective in the following ways.
The following types of medications are used to treat depression:
Psychotherapy can help people do the following:
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Antidepressants may cause mild and usually temporary side effects in some people. Following are the most common side effects:
What happens after treatment for the condition?
An individual can help prevent relapses by living a healthy lifestyle. Following are some important parts of a healthy lifestyle:
How is the condition monitored?
Once a person has an episode of depression, he or she is at higher risk for further episodes. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider. The provider may recommend regular visits to monitor symptoms. The provider may also order blood tests to monitor the levels of medications.
Article type: xmedgeneral