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Feelings and emotions after a heart attack
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack.

Key takeaways

  • It’s normal to feel down after a heart attack. 
  • You might experience depression or anxiety. 
  • It’s important to get help – the sooner the better. 
3 min read
If you’ve recently had a heart attack, you may be overwhelmed with emotions.  

You might be sad, angry, anxious, lonely or confused. This is all normal. What happened to you was a big deal, so you can expect some big emotions. 

Feeling down after a heart attack is so common there’s a name for it: ‘the cardiac blues’. Getting on top of ‘the blues’ will improve your physical health too, so it’s important for your recovery. 

Find someone to talk to. It could be someone in your healthcare team, a family member, or a friend. It can also be helpful to meet other people who’ve been through this, which is another good reason to join a cardiac rehab or support group. 

Feeling alone  

If you’re feeling alone, reach out to friends and family. Being connected is important for your heart and your general health. 

If your friends or family aren’t nearby, then a cardiac rehab program is a great idea. As well as all the support and advice from health professionals, you’ll get to connect with people who have had similar experiences.  

Another great idea is joining a walking group. That way you’ll get company and exercise at the same time. 

Depression  

Most people will feel some sadness after a heart attack.  

Depression is different to just feeling sad. Depression is when you feel down or miserable most of the time. It affects everything, including your normal activities. It also increases your chance of having a heart attack. 

You can check your feelings by answering these two questions: 

 

  1. In the past two weeks, have you been feeling down, depressed or hopeless? 
  2. In the past two weeks, have you lost interest or pleasure in things you usually like? 
If either of your answers were ‘yes’, then see your doctor. You might be depressed. 

Depression can be treated either with or without medication and there’s a lot you can do to help yourself. Having a healthy lifestyle with good food, exercise, sleep and reducing stress will help both your physical and your mental health, and it will be very good for your heart.  

You can get more information and support from Beyond Blue. They can support your friends and family too. 

Anxiety  

Feeling anxious is another common emotion after a heart attack. You might be feeling vulnerable, or worried that you’ll have another heart attack. Most people have some concerns. 

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. It often comes with strong physical feelings, like a racing heart, feeling sick, or getting very hot then very cold. You might have bad or scary thoughts at the same time. Lots of people with anxiety stay home and avoid others. Unfortunately, this just makes things worse. 

The good news is that there are lots of ways to treat your anxiety. Speak to your doctor or arrange to see a psychologist. You can also get support in your cardiac rehab program. 

Getting help  

If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, don’t wait to get help. The sooner you see your doctor, the better. If your doctor gives you medication, make sure you take it as prescribed. 

You can also help yourself by making some healthy lifestyle changes, letting your friends and family support you, and connecting with others who are going through the same thing. 
 
Find a cardiac rehabilitation program in your area
 

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