Depression, Stress & Heart Disease


Depression is caused by chemical changes in the brain and may be linked to a number of factors: long term stressful situations, personal factors or developing a long-term illness. Stress and depression are sometimes linked, but stress does not always result in depression.

Depression can lead to unhealthy behaviours such as comfort eating or loss of appetite, lack of motivation and lethargy leading to decreased physical activity. Stress can be an insidious build-up of many pressures and challenges. Most people are now aware that the big issues in life can be exciting for some and demanding for others resulting in stress. Redundancy and moving home are just two examples.

A little bit of pressure can be productive, give you motivation and help you to perform better at something. However, too much pressure or prolonged pressure can lead to stress, which is unhealthy for the mind and body.

Common mental symptoms of stress are anger, depression, anxiety, changes in behaviour, food cravings, feeling tired and difficulty in concentrating.

There are many theories on how stress could be related to and increase the risk of getting coronary artery disease. The research does not show a direct link between stress and heart disease, but it has identified how stress can have an impact on the risk factors for disease – such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, being overweight and being inactive.

Stress-busting activities for a healthy heart

Time management

· Prioritise tasks and plan your day accordingly

· Do one thing at a time

· Have realistic short-term and long-term strategies for getting things done

Problem solving

Ask yourself:

· What is the real problem?

· What can I do differently?

· Reflect on the outcome. Did doing things differently work?

Relaxation

You can do this by:

· Sitting down and taking some deep breaths

· Doing a series of stretches

· Taking up a new hobby or activity

· Practising yoga, Pilates, meditation or mindfulness

Work

If work is stressing you out:

· Talk to your manager and together make some changes

· Talk to a colleague or friend

Some of these changes can take time to develop. Expecting too much of yourself will possibly add more stress.

For more information, visit www.bhf.org.uk.

Dr Martin Ezan BSc MB CHB MRCP MSc MFOM

Consultant Occupational Physician

Platinum Occupational Health

This article was originally published in the 2018 GDDA-UK conference brochure, kindly supported by Indigo Homes


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