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Everyone feels a little down now and then. But people with heart disease are at increased risk for serious depression—and, unfortunately, many of them don’t know it. If not treated, depression can make you more likely to have future heart problems.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether you are depressed or just feeling blue. Here are some symptoms to watch for:
Feeling sad or anxious
Feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless
Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that you enjoyed in the past
Having less energy or feeling tired
Too little or too much sleeping
Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
Changes in appetite or weight
Feeling irritable or restless
Thoughts of suicide or death
If you have most or all of these symptoms every day for at least 2 weeks, you may have depression.
If you have symptoms of depression, talk with your healthcare provider. He or she may refer you to a counselor or other mental health specialist. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe medicine for your depression. A combination of counseling and medicine can be helpful in treating depression.
Studies have shown that exercise can also be helpful in treating depression. And getting regular exercise, like walking, is also a great way to keep your heart healthy.
If you have thoughts of harming yourself, seek help right away. If you are at immediate risk, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room. If you are worried about a friend or loved one, ask them in a caring way if they are thinking of harming themselves and help them get support.
If there is no immediate risk, call your healthcare provider or seek help online. In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or contact them online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. This resource provides immediate crisis intervention and information on local resources. It is free and confidential.
Go online to the National Institute of Mental Health's website at www.nimh.nih.gov to learn more about depression.
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