One commonality among many of the Dads I’ve spoken to since starting DWD is the depression that follows any type of heart complication or life threatening situation.
I experienced it with my own father, who went through a bout of depression following his heart surgery well over a decade ago. Thankfully, he’s still here 15 years later despite a scary moment on the operating table.
It’s not surprising many feel depressed after such an ordeal as it’s not easy to be faced with your own mortality and affects each person differently.
“Temporary mood swings, if they are not too frequent or dramatic, are a normal part of life,” says Dr Erik Olsson, of Uppsala University, Sweden.
“Feeling a little depressed after a heart attack might even be a good thing if it makes you withdraw a bit and get some rest,” he explains. “Emotional states help us regulate our behaviours.”
However, Dr Olsson says the best medicine is to keep on truckin’.
“Try to keep doing your usual activities, at least the positive ones,” Olsson adds. “Some patients begin to avoid exercise and sex because they are afraid of triggering another event, but most things that feel risky are not. If you’re in a low mood you may expect less enjoyment from socialising, but then find it is more pleasurable than you predicted. If you haven’t been depressed or anxious before, at least not very often, don’t worry about it. It is likely a normal reaction to a life-threatening event which is also partly biological.”
Read an interesting research paper into depression after heart attacks here.