|| DukeMedNews || Depression after a Heart Attack

Suggested lead: Recovery from a heart attack involves more than the physical rehabilitation; it can also require some psychological struggles. Tom Britt has more.

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One of the typical reactions to a heart attack is depression. But how long that depression lasts might be sign of whether the patient is likely to have another, even more severe attack. James Blumenthal is a professor of medical psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center. He says physicians have only recently started to actively treat depression as part of the care for the heart attack itself. Research has shown that half of all heart attack patients suffer mild to serious depression.

“Another condition that frequently accompanies depression has to do with social isolation. People who feel that they don’t have people on whom they can depend, count on, confide in. Social isolation also appears to carry with it the significant increased risk for further heart complications.”

Blumenthal says the best treatment the family can give is to be supportive, and to work with the physician to encourage the heart attack patient to gradually ease back into an active lifestyle. I’m Tom Britt.

Blumenthal says being supportive is important in dealing with a recovering heart attack patient who shows signs of depression.

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“Being a good listener, and also understanding that this is not an uncommon occurrence in heart attack patients — it’s not going to last forever, patients get over it — and that they’ll hopefully be back to normal before too long.”