February is Heart Health Month, and that’s a great time to talk about the link between heart disease and depression. According to the American Heart Association, one in 10 adult Americans have depression, and symptoms of depression are three times more common in people who have had a heart attack than those who have not. Interestingly, there’s a reciprocal relationship where having heart disease increases the risk of depression, and depression may increase the chance of developing heart disease. In fact, emotional distress and depression are risk factors for coronary artery disease.
So, what can you do to keep your heart and mind healthy?
• Exercise regularly (Just 30 minutes a day can improve both physical and mental health)
• Reduce alcohol intake (Alcohol increases blood pressure and depresses mood)
• Quit smoking (Smoking is top preventable risk factor for heart disease)
• Do deep breathing exercises
• Use medication and/or visualization to improve mood and relax
• Share your feelings with others or journal to express difficult emotions
As always, seek professional guidance if you are concerned about your heart or your mood. Counseling can be a great way to develop healthy habits to improve both heart and mind health.