MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: what are the psychological implications of diagnosis of an MI?

Date: Mon Mar 12 00:07:12 2001
Posted By: Sarah Martin Mason, Medical student, Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 983484092.Me

Dear Becky,
Your question is an interesting one, and one that has been in the news very 
often in the last couple of years.  Several studies have found that 
approximately 20% of men who have had a myocardial infarction develop a 
major depression afterwards.  Not only is this unfortunate because of the 
suffering that goes along with major depression, but this depression is 
also associated with a 3-4 times higher risk of mortality due to heart 
disease.  It also known that 80% of those with depression in the general 
population are untreated.  The combination of these two facts make it a 
very good idea to assess those with recent M.I. for possible depression.  
All physicins are trained to screen for major depression, but many are too 
busy to take the time to actually do it.  Since these statistics have been 
in the news recently, I hope that the family members and loved ones of 
these possible victims of depression will help them to seek help for any 
symptoms of depression.  Some of the hallmarks of depression are change in 
sleep patterns, loss or gain of weight, depressed mood, suicidal ideation, 
loss of concentration, anxiety, loss of pleasure in usually enjoyable 
activities and irritability.  If someone you know has any of these symptoms 
please help them to get treatment. It is becoming increasingly accepted 
that acute anxiety is the most important risk factor for suicide.  Suicide 
is not known to be more common in those with heart disease, but is always 
an important concern when dealing with depression. Psychiatric medication 
has come a very long way in recent years, and there are many medications on 
the market now that can save lives.  
Thank you for your question.
Sarah Martin Mason, Mad Scientist

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