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Hear2Heart, September 6,  2020  1:57pm EST

On ANXIETY and DEPRESSION and recovery

Firstly, I have complex PTSD beyond anxiety, but it seems to me that the concepts should be similar. If you have pre-existing behaviorial healh issues before cardiac care, you may be subject to them afterwards, maybe in overdrive.  Maybe this crisis situation could surface at least event-driven anxiety or depression that you are not normally subject to. We all need help, hence this forum --- I hope and pray that my experience and observations may help you!!!

Anxiety was a trigger to the severe constant angina for a couple of days that led me to the ER and then to be hospitalized, where the heart cathereterization showed the 80% blockage that led to angioplasty and stent placement. The apparent angina countinue and the first hospital discharged me despite the continued chest pain. The second and better hospital gave me medication that controlled the angina, but I am still not feeling myself yet or ready to go back to work.

I talked with a counselor today and she confirmed what I thought --- I have some sort of residual anxiety, some from the particularly stressful week (trigger) that put me in the hospital and then the anxiety of getting my angina resolved to insure that it wasn't a serious health problem and so that I could reduce the chest pain to a level that I could actually work and concentrate. 

However, the counselor validated that even though ALL stress triggers are gone, anxiety will prevent you from feeling quite like yourself. From a layman's perspective, the part of the brain that processes the stress is a required path to the executive part of the brain, the latter giving you the ability to think clearly. So, with a disconnect from these two parts of the brain, you can't concentrate well or feel perfectly normal.

So, it appears there there may be more than one tale of caution:

- Anxiety contributes to angina, so upon recovery, try to stress yourself out too much, avoid stress. It depends on your situation at work - but fortunatey, I have short-term disability to rely upon - if possible, don't force yourself back to work too quickly if you are overcome with anxiety or it could be a disaster. See if you can ease into it, by - for instance - starting with half days.

- Even with all cardiac issues fairly well resolved, residual anxiety can wear you down. Don't be ******* yoursefl!  Realize that it is reasonable and almost expected under your circumstances. Seek empathy and compassion from your family, friends, coworkers and boss to provide you support to get though this difficult time. Don't bottle up your frustrations inside you, it helps to heal to discuss them with your support network.

- Consider the need for professional psychological counseling. Sometimes, the advice you need may be beyond what your friends and family can provide; you may need medication to deal with the anxiety, even for the short-term transition. I've gotten anti-anxiety prescriptions from my primary care physican as a last resort.

God bless you to help and heal you during this potentially difficult time of cardiac recovery.


1 Reply
  • AHAASAKatie
    AHAASAKatie, September 9,  2020  10:19am EST

    You are so very right. Professional therapists brings a great deal to healing from a heart or stroke incident. Thank you for bringing this up. Best Katie

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