Whole Heart

Treating Depression Can Help to Heal Your Heart

Depression masquerades as fatigue
But patients don't always recognize depression and doctors don't always screen for it. Both may blame symptoms on fatigue from the heart disease, surgery, and the side effects of heart medications.

That's why Leo Pozuelo, MD, associate director of the Bakken Heart-Brain Institute at the Cleveland Clinic suggests that cardiac patients ask themselves two important questions:

  • Over the past two weeks, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?
  • Over the past two weeks, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?
If the answer is yes to both, you should seek help from a mental health expert, says Dr. Pozuelo.

This self-test worked for Forman, who went back to work after her heart surgery, promptly gained 40 pounds, and felt awful. "I couldn't focus on things," she says. "I felt like I had adult ADD. I just felt really overwhelmed with work, with everything."

Finally Forman realized her depression was not normal and sought help. Her family doctor prescribed psychotherapy and an antidepressant. "It has made all the difference in the world," she says. "It's like a weight has been lifted."
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