Image for MI mortality article It's normal to feel down after a heart attack, but symptoms of depression can compound your recovery. Studies support that people who had heart attacks and were diagnosed with depression fared significantly worse than those without signs of depression. Other studies have tracked heart attack patients for several months after they left the hospital. Those studies found that the patients with diagnosable depression suffered more heart complications, including death.

How does this affect you? It translates to better care if you have a heart attack. Depression and how to treat it are incorporated into the heart attack recovery process.

In the United States, heart disease is the number one killer of men and women. To help determine who may need more aggressive treatment after a heart attack, doctors assess each patient’s risk factors. Most known risk factors center around complications of the heart itself or predisposing traits, like high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure. Interest in the role of depression and mental health, however, opens up another avenue in the fight against heart disease and its complications. In light of findings of depression as a risk factor, many doctors now recommend that all heart attack patients be screened for depression, a move supported by the American Heart Association and American Psychiatric Association.