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The Connection Between Heart Disease and Psychiatric Disorders

connection heart disease and mental health

The Connection Between Heart Disease and Psychiatric Disorders


Mental health is pivotal to a person's overall health, as it involves their emotional, social, and psychological well-being. In addition, it influences how we think and act.

Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression interfere with a person's social behavior and mood and can hamper their ability to function. Coupled with heart disease, the situation becomes even more dreadful.

Interestingly, and quite unfortunately, studies show that there is a relationship between heart diseases and mental health disorders.


Psychiatric Disorders Often Linked with Heart Disease

Mental health disorders commonly linked with heart disease are as follows:

Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder

Anxiety disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Chronic stress

Although these are the common ones, other behavioral health disorders such as substance abuse may also be related to heart disease.


The Connection

Many recent studies now show that mental health is linked with risk factors for cardiovascular diseases even before diagnosing a psychiatric disorder and during treatment. The connection is two-directional (each can lead to the other). The link can be through biological pathways and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

For example, long periods of stress and depression can cause physiological effects on the body. Effects may include:

These effects may cause calcium to build up in the arteries, leading to metabolic and heart diseases over time.

On the other hand, depression, anxiety, and PTSD may develop after a person is diagnosed and undergoing treatment for cardiovascular disease. These psychiatric issues notably result from the trauma and pain, fear of disability, and even money problems associated with the long-term illness.

But that's not all.

Mental health disorders like depression, stress, and anxiety can lead the individual to smoking and alcohol use in an attempt to calm their nerves or feel better. Some may even get tired of taking their medications out of despair.


Who is at Risk of Developing Cardiovascular Disease from Psychiatric Disorders?

Some demographics are more likely to develop heart disease due to long-term mental health issues. These include:


What Can be Done

Since heart diseases can lead to mental health disorders and vice versa, we will have to address both issues early enough before they have a chance to spiral out of hand.

We can achieve this by providing easy access to support services and promoting healthy behaviors, such as avoiding smoking, drugs, and alcohol abuse. All of these will reduce a person's risk of heart disease.

Also, if you know any individual battling depression, anxiety, stress, or PTSD, offer help as soon as possible. Prolonged mental health disorders can make life miserable, but medications and therapies can help.

The sooner these mental health issues are addressed, the more fulfilling their lives become, and the lower their risk of heart disease.

Finally, patients should be told about the connection between heart disease and psychiatric disorders, and giving in to one simply paves the way for the other.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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