Mood and Anxiety

Do people with CHD have more problems with depression and anxiety?

Here are two honest answers:

  • Adults with CHD are a bit more likely to have depression or anxiety than people without medical conditions.
  • At any one time, most adults with CHD are not dealing with serious depression or anxiety.

What does it mean to be depressed or anxious?

Everybody has times when they feel down or depressed. Everybody has times when they worry. We don’t know anybody who is in a good mood all the time!

But if a person’s mood is getting in the way of school, work, family time or friendships, it’s good to let someone (like a parent or a health provider) know. Concerns like that need some proper attention to improve. They shouldn’t be ignored.

We think about 3 main things when talking to someone who might be depressed or anxious to understand whether they should seek mental health treatment:

  • The number of mood or anxiety symptoms and how strong they are
  • How long the symptoms last
  • Whether they interfere with things like school, work, family or friendships

Feeling Depressed

People can feel depressed in different ways. Here are some common symptoms:

  • Low mood (feeling down or blue)
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment in things
  • Big change in appetite or weight
  • Big change in sleeping (a lot more or a lot less)
  • Fatigue or really low energy
  • Problems with concentration or making decisions
  • Low self-esteem and/or having lots of guilt
  • Thinking and moving a lot slower or faster than usual
  • Thoughts of death or hurting oneself. Anyone who has thoughts like this should talk about them with an adult they trust right away.

Feeling Anxious

There are different kinds of anxiety problems. Some people have panic attacks. These are sudden episodes of intense fear and physical symptoms that often come out of the blue and last for a few minutes. Some people have phobias. These are intense fears about something that pose little danger (like getting a needle) or are very unlikely (like getting bitten by a shark). Some people have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This means they have certain thoughts and/or behaviours they keep repeating. Some people have generalized anxiety that can include the following symptoms:

  • A lot of worry that’s hard to control
  • Feeling restless (“on edge”)
  • Being really tired
  • Problems with concentration, memory, and making decisions
  • Being more irritated
  • Tense muscles
  • Sleeping problems

I think you’ve just described me! Now what?

It might be tempting to diagnose yourself. But that wouldn’t be a good idea.

Talk to your parent, caregiver, family doctor or cardiologist or nurse if you think you might have a mood or anxiety problem.

If you’re having thoughts of hurting yourself, this is something you should discuss with an adult you trust right away. In Canada, you can contact the Kids Help Phone anytime. In the United States, you can contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day.

What kind of mental health expert might be right for me?

There are many different types of mental health experts.

It’s best to ask your family doctor, cardiologist, or nurse about the kind of mental health expert that might be right for you. They might also be able to provide a referral or recommendation.

Psychologists: trained to provide talk therapy to help people cope. They do not prescribe medications.

Psychiatrists: can prescribe drugs and also use talk therapy.

Social workers: trained to focus on how a person’s environment (housing, family, culture, work) affects them. Many social workers have training in talk therapy.

There are also other kinds of professionals. This list includes counselors, family doctors, pastoral counselors (who are linked with specific religions), and nurses.