Depression can break your heart…literally. Research has shown that depression is commonly linked with heart disease, with one often leading to the other. Studies reveal one in ten American adults suffer from depression, and it’s widely known that heart disease is the leading cause of death amongst men and women in the United States. With statistics like this, it’s easy to understand why the correlation between the two is an issue that cannot be ignored. Depression symptoms are often seen as purely mental, however, the physical symptoms of depression are just as debilitating—especially when it comes to your heart health.

How Depression Affects Heart Health

The broad-ranging physical symptoms of depression can include digestive issues, sleep deprivation, headaches, agitation, tiredness and muscle pain. These somatic symptoms frequently exacerbate emotional depression symptoms in chronic sufferers. The psychological distress caused by depression increases the heart rate and blood pressure, leading to a rise in the stress hormone called cortisol—which signals “fight or flight” reactions—placing even more strain on the heart. The chain reaction caused by the physical symptoms of depression are treacherous, but this example only scratches the surface of the vast and swiftly moving myriad of heart-related depression symptoms. Some of the most common effects depression can have on heart health include:

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease—also known as heart disease—is often called the “silent killer,” due to the fact that most people don’t even know they have it. This dangerous disease can lead to stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. The cortisol boost caused by depression can induce inflammation, which leads to clogged arteries and, potentially, make blood clots…and these are the ingredients that go into the disastrous recipe of heart disease.

New or Worsening Heart Conditions & Psychological Implications

Depression can worsen heart conditions in those with existing cardiovascular diagnoses, increasing the already-high morbidity rate of these conditions, especially in older adults. Conversely, an individual with a recent heart diagnosis or cardiac event has an elevated risk of developing depression due to the stress of acclimating to the lifestyle changes they must make to keep their heart healthy.

Decreased Heart Healthy Decision-Making

The lethargy that regularly accompanies the physical symptoms of depression can decrease the likelihood that a person will make healthy decisions, like eating nutritious meals and exercising feel. Furthermore, the feeling of overwhelm that comes along with depression can effectuate ruinous behaviors, like tobacco smoking, alcohol intake, and failure to take prescribed medications, or abusing prescribed medications or other illicit substances. All of these are consequential risk factors for cardiovascular disease, as well as high cholesterol, diabetes, and other heart diseases.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Heart

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic pill that can make all of these heart health complications disappear. The good news is that troubles with heart health are both preventable and treatable. The best place to start is by nurturing psychological welfare. Depression alters brain chemistry, causing a rippling effect on the body. Treating one’s depression, then, is paramount to perpetuating and rehabilitating heart health.

Lifestyle changes like diet, exercises and other self-care practices are an excellent starting point for improved mental health, and are often used in combination with other treatments. Traditionally, these depression treatment begins with psychotherapy to help identify the root cause of your depression, and thus begin to unravel it through the use of antidepressant medications or other holistic depression treatments.

For those who fail to respond to medications or other first-line depression treatments, ketamine treatment is a breakthrough treatment that has been shown to effectively improve symptoms in a shorter amount of time. This is due to the unique way that ketamine treatment repairs impaired neural connections in the brain.

A healthy mind leads to a healthy heart. Taking care of your mental and physical health will ensure you live a long, heart-healthy life. Should you choose to include ketamine therapy as part of your treatment regimen, contact Ketamine Greater Boston to get started, or visit our website to learn more.

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