Receiving a heart failure diagnosis is a life-changing event and can be enough to make anyone feel temporarily upset, but it can also trigger long-term conditions like depression and anxiety.

Some level of depression is experienced by about one in five heart failure patients, with nearly half of these depressed patients having significant depression.¹ These patients have a higher risk of hospitalization and a lower chance of recovery. It can be a vicious physical and mental cycle.

How do you know if you or the person you are caring for is suffering from depression or anxiety?

If you notice a lag in motivation, increase in fatigue, poor sleep patterns, feelings of hopelessness, or ongoing stress, these might be signs of a mental health condition. Specifically, if these symptoms have been ongoing for at least two weeks, it may be more than just a case of “the blues.”

How can I manage it if I do think I have depression or anxiety?

If you suspect that you are suffering from a mental health disorder, don’t give up hope! There are ways to manage your condition, just as there are to manage your heart condition.

A good first step is to discuss your mental health and advocate for yourself when speaking with your primary healthcare provider. Your primary care doctor should help to evaluate your concerns and, depending on your symptoms, may refer you to mental health care provider. However, even if you are not referred and you have concerns with your mental health, you can consider adding a mental health care provider to your care team on your own.

On top of seeking counseling or therapy, there are other ways to help break the cycle of depression and anxiety. Finding mood boosting activities like physical exercise and spending time with loved ones can help you to manage stress. Another option is to seek social support specifically designed for heart failure patients. Your doctor may be able to help you find a local support group that you can meet with in-person. Alternatively, social media groups, like the My Heart Club Facebook Group {LINK}, provide virtual connection with patients across the country.


Rutledge T, et al. (2006). Depression in heart failure a meta-analytic review of prevalence, intervention effects, and associations with clinical outcomes. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17045884 [Accessed 5 Apr. 2019].

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