Most people recognize depression as a mental health condition. While it is, it can also manifest itself through physical symptoms. Long-term, the effects of depression can even impact your physical well-being.
One of the common physical complications of depression is poor cardiovascular health. Yes, depression can impact your heart.
Let’s take a closer look at the connection. The more you understand how depression can severely affect your health, the sooner you can start to seek out treatment to effectively manage it.
How Does Depression Impact the Heart?
Have you ever experienced chest pain during major bouts of depression? You might think your heart is literally aching from sadness. While that’s a good idea for a country song, that pain is actually coming from a combination of raised blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.
When you’re depressed, those things tend to rise, causing extra stress on your body and your heart. Depression can also reduce blood flow to the heart. Not only can that contribute to pain, but it can also lead to symptoms like fatigue, sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, and even aches and pains.
Depression also often leads to the increased production of cortisol — known as the stress hormone. Increased levels of cortisol can also lead to higher blood pressure and put a lot of stress on your cardiovascular system.
The Long-Term Effects of Depression
Clearly, depression puts a strain on your heart. When everything is raised, including blood pressure and cortisol, it causes your heart to have to work harder to function properly. Eventually, that can lead to serious complications, including heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, people who have already experienced cardiovascular-related issues are also often at a greater risk of developing depression or anxiety. It can become a vicious cycle that takes a toll on your heart.
Incorporating a Healthy Lifestyle
There are two major components to consider when it comes to helping your cardiovascular health. The first is taking care of your body. The stronger your heart is, the easier it will be to fight off the physical effects of depression.
Things like regular exercise, eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and practicing self-care can all improve your heart health. Avoid smoking and excessive drinking, and visit your doctor regularly for preventative care.
Dealing With Depression
Of course, living a healthy lifestyle is only half the battle. If you’re struggling with depression, learning how to manage it is one of the best things you can do for your overall health — including your cardiovascular well-being!
The good news? Depression can be very treatable with the right help. First, it’s important to get to the bottom of it. It’s not always easy to dig deeper and determine what’s causing or triggering your depression. But, it’s the first step toward truly healing.
From there, you can work on moving through the effects of that cause while learning how to manage your symptoms in healthy ways.
You don’t have to — and shouldn’t — deal with depression alone. Leaning on your support system and reaching out for professional help are often the best ways to manage it. A therapist can help you get to the root cause of your struggles. Beyond that, they’ll help with management techniques and guide you through what you can do on your own to make your symptoms less severe.
Don’t leave your health to chance because of depression. If you’ve been struggling for a while, it’s not too late to get help and take care of yourself. Even if you’re not sure whether you’re truly depressed or not but you’re uncertain about your feelings, it’s worth it to talk to someone. Feel free to contact me to set up an appointment soon for depression treatment.