Heart Failure and Depression
This will help you learn how to know the difference between heart failure and depression. It will also give you resources for help.
• Depression is common in people with heart failure
o Depression is present in about 36-59% of patients with chronic heart failure.
o It is higher in women than men
• Depression can lead to more symptoms of heart failures that will decrease
your quality of life.
• Heart failure and depression have some of the same signs and symptoms.
• Treating depression can improve your health status.
After being diagnosed with heart failure, people react differently. Many people will have: anxiety, denial, depression, and fear. It is ok to have these feelings but it is important to be aware of them. You can talk to your health care provider. They can make a plan with you to cope with these feelings.
Signs of Depression
• Feeling sad, lonely, and gloomy.
• Having less energy or no energy to do things that you used to do.
• Need more sleep
• No desire for food.
• Weight changes.
• Having thoughts of guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness most of the time.
• Feel like you have nothing to live for.
Signs of Heart Failure
• You have no energy.
• Tire easily.
• Feeling crabby and on edge.
• Don’t want to eat.
• Hard to breathe when at rest or lying flat.
• Gain weight despite loss of appetite.
• Swollen abdomen, legs, arms, and face.
• Out of breath or cough.
• Chest congestion.
What can you do?
Have a healthy way of life. This can help you feel better and decrease your chance of heart failure.
• Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
• Eating a heart-healthy diet.
• Exercise-it can reduce your depressive symptoms and improve cardiac
• Get enough sleep.
• Take your medicine.
Find a positive way to change your life. Learn about your illness and how it affects you. Think about how you cope with stress and write down what helps you cope and what does not help. Come up with new plan and put it to use. Some skills to cope are:
• Do talk to your family and friends.
• Stay active with your hobbies/activities that you used to do.
• Learn to relax.
• Learn to avoid blaming yourself.
• Write a “to do list” and rest in between.
• Allow yourself grieving time- everyone needs time to come to term with
changes in your life.
• Join a support group- you are not alone.
• Seek help to deal with grief, anxiety, depression, and other problems.
***Talk to your health care provider if you notice any signs and symptoms of depression.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7206.
Resources for you:
American Heart Association www.heart.org
UW-Heart Failure Management Program (608) 263-1690
UW-Women’s Heart Health Program (608) 263-1530
Adult Mental Health Services-Dane County Department of Human Services (608) 280-2710
(2007). Heart Failure. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from American Hearts Association website: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1486
(“n.d”). Coping with Depression. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from The Mended Hearts, Inc: www.mendedhearts.org.
Johansson, P., Dahlstrom, U., & Brostrom, A. (2006). Consequences and Predictors of Depression in Patients With Chronic Heart Failure: Implications for Nursing Care and Future Research. Progress in Cardiovascular Nursing, 202-211. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
Koenig, H. (2006). Recognition of Depression in Medical Patients With Heart Failure. Psychosomatics, 48(4), 338-347. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
Lesman-Leegt, I., Jaarsma, T., Sanderman, R., Hillege, H., &Veldhuisen, D. (2008). Determinants of Depressive Symptoms in Hospitalised Men and Women With Heart Failure. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 7, 121-126. Retrieved March 12, 2009 from Nursing Consult database.
Thomas, S., et. al. (2008). Depression in patients with heart failure: prevalence, pathophysiological mechanisms, and treatment. Critical Care Nurse Journals, 28(2), 40-55. Retrieved February 25, 2009.
Xiong, G.L., Fiuzan, M., Kuchidhatia, M., Krishan, R., O’Connor, C.M., & Jiang, W. (2012). Circulation Heart Failure. Epub ahead of print. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 10/22/2012
Copyright © 10/22/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6885
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