Healthy Living

Do You Have What Robin Williams Had?

Robin Williams probably had them all – heart problems, a heart operation, depression and addiction to alcohol. We may not realize that all those elements have strong connections. But remember, this is not a guy’s issue. Women over 50 need to pay attention to these little-known connections. It’s not clear which of these health issues comes first or whether it’s a loop between them all. However, wherever it starts, it’s important to know that two or all of these health issues are related. Obviously, not all conditions are as extreme as what William’s probably suffered from but knowledge about them is very useful.

As women (and the men we care about) move into the danger zone after 50, we need to recognize this syndrome. It’s easy to think that a heart condition is strictly a single health issue. However, it often has wider effects. The syndrome can be dealt with if it’s recognized and help is actively sought. Having a heart problem or a heart operation can lead to depression and addiction.

The NIMH (The National Institute of Mental Health) tells us “Depression not only affects your brain and behavior—it affects your entire body. Depression has been linked with other health problems, including heart disease. Dealing with more than one health problem at a time can be difficult, so proper treatment is important.” Depression and Heart Disease

“People with heart disease are more likely to suffer from depression than otherwise healthy people. Angina and heart attacks are closely linked with depression. Researchers are unsure exactly why this occurs. They do know that some symptoms of depression may reduce your overall physical and mental health, increasing your risk for heart disease or making symptoms of heart disease worse. Fatigue or feelings of worthlessness may cause you to ignore your medication plan and avoid treatment for heart disease. Having depression increases your risk of death after a heart attack.”

The Mayo Clinic states: “Mental stress and depression affect women’s hearts more than men’s. Depression makes it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow recommended treatment, so talk to your doctor if you’re having symptoms of depression.” Heart Disease in Women: Understanding Symptoms and Risk Factors

Alcohol is the other part of this harmful health syndrome which connects heart, depression and alcohol. Alcohol and Heart Issues are covered by the American Heart Association.

NIMH reports treatment for depression is as follows:

“How is depression treated in people who have heart disease?
Depression is diagnosed and treated by a health care provider. Treating depression can help you manage heart disease and improve your overall health. Recovery from depression takes time but treatments are effective.
At present, the most common treatments for depression include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, that helps people change negative thinking styles and behaviors that may contribute to their depression
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a type of antidepressant medication that includes citalopram (Celexa), sertraline (Zoloft), and fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), a type of antidepressant medication similar to SSRI that includes venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).”
  • Read more about these conditions and the treatments at Depression and Heart Disease

While currently available depression treatments are generally well-tolerated and safe, talk with your health care provider about side effects, possible drug interactions, and other treatment options. For the latest information on medications, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website . Not everyone responds to treatment the same way. Medications can take several weeks to work, may need to be combined with ongoing talk therapy, or may need to be changed or adjusted to minimize side effects and achieve the best results.”

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