Although it may not be readily apparent to every patient, medical professionals are convinced of the close relationship between mental and physical health.

Mental health and physical health are closely linked

Physical ailments and chronic conditions are likely to increase a person’s stress and anxiety levels. People who are more stressed and have higher levels of anxiety are more likely to develop mental health conditions such as depression.

It’s vital for every patient to understand this link so that they know they can’t neglect treatment of one area in favor of another. Effective treatment requires you to focus on your health as a whole and learn what specific steps you can take to improve your mental health while you are receiving treatment for physical symptoms.

The connections between AFib and depression

Atrial fibrillation is a condition that is especially linked to mental health problems. Because AFib patients have an increased risk of stroke, it’s easy to see how living with the condition for a prolonged period could induce stress and anxiety, ultimately leading to depression.

However, researchers have only recently learned that the connection between AFib and depression works the other way as well. According to a recent study that was presented at the American Heart Association Meeting, people who display symptoms associated with depression have a higher risk of developing AFib. In any particular case, medical professionals can’t be certain whether AFib is responsible for a patient’s depression or the other way around, but the results of the study indicate that mental health experts should be aware of their clients’ increased risk for heart rhythm disorders and counsel them on the importance of heart health.

Treating depression can help improve heart health

These findings also indicate that treating depression is an important part of maintaining a healthy heart and should be considered as part of a holistic heart treatment regimen including eating a proper diet, exercising, and refraining from smoking. Many patients have a tendency to put off mental health care in favor of treatments that have more apparent physical responses, but it is clear that neglecting your mental health can pose serious consequences for your physical well-being, including an increased risk of a deadly stroke.

Tips for taking care of your physical and mental health

Treating depression should always begin with counseling provided by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other licensed mental health professional. Thankfully, some of the other methods used to treat depression are similar to those used for managing heart arrhythmias, including:

  • Increasing your physical activity
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Participating in mind/body exercises such as yoga
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet

Just as it’s important to take care of your mental health, it’s also crucial to seek physical treatment for AFib as soon as possible. Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. helps patients across the Tampa and Sarasota areas manage their AFib to improve their quality of life. Schedule a consultation with a cardiac electrophysiologist today to learn more about how we can design a customized treatment plan for you.