Feelings and emotions after a heart attack
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack.

Key takeaways

  • It’s normal to feel down after a heart attack. 
  • You might experience depression or anxiety. 
  • It’s important to get help – the sooner the better. 
3 min read

If you’ve recently had a heart attack, you may be overwhelmed with emotions.  

You might be sad, angry, anxious, lonely or confused. This is all normal. What happened to you was a big deal, so you can expect some big emotions. 

Feeling down after a heart attack is so common there’s a name for it: ‘the cardiac blues’. The cardiac blues usually gets better with time and support, but these feeelings can be distressing. 

Find someone to talk to. It could be someone in your healthcare team, a family member, or a friend. Keep active and maintain your connection with family and friends. It can also be helpful to meet other people who’ve been through this, which is another good reason to join a cardiac rehab or support group. 

Feeling alone  

The Heart Foundation Helpline can offer free phone support to help you understand your condition and talk through how you are feeling. Free call 13 11 12 during business hours.

If you’re feeling alone, reach out to friends and family. Being connected is important for your heart and your general health. 

If your friends or family aren’t nearby, then a cardiac rehab program is a great idea. As well as all the support and advice from health professionals, you’ll get to connect with people who have had similar experiences.  

Another great idea is joining a walking group. That way you’ll get company and exercise at the same time. 

Depression  

Most people will experience moments of sadness, grief or lack of hope after a heart attack. This temporary 'emotional roller-coaster' is considered a normal response to a stressful event.

Depression is different. Depression is when you feel down or miserable most of the time. It affects everything, including your normal activities. It also increases your chance of having a heart attack. 

You can check if your feelings, mood and thoughts need to be assessed by answering these questions: In the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by:

  1. Having little interest or pleasure in doing things?
  2. Feeling down, depressed or hopeless?

If you are experiencing these feelings on more than half of the days in a two week period, you need to seek assessment from your doctor or health care team quickly.

Depression can be treated either with or without medication and there’s a lot you can do to help yourself. Having a healthy lifestyle with good food, exercise, sleep and reducing stress will help both your physical and your mental health, and it will be very good for your heart.  

You can get more information and support from Beyond Blue. They can support your friends and family too. 

Anxiety  

Feeling anxious is another common emotion after a heart attack. You might be feeling vulnerable, or worried that you’ll have another heart attack. It is normal to have some concerns. 

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. It often comes with strong physical feelings, like a racing heart, feeling sick, or getting very hot then very cold. You might have bad or scary thoughts at the same time. Lots of people with anxiety stay home and avoid others. Unfortunately, this just makes things worse. 

The good news is that there are lots of ways to treat your anxiety. Speak to your doctor or arrange to see a psychologist. You can also get support in your cardiac rehab program. 

Getting help  

If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, don’t wait to get help. The sooner you see your doctor, the better. If your doctor gives you medication, make sure you take it as prescribed. 

You can also help yourself by making some healthy lifestyle changes, letting your friends and family support you, and connecting with others who are going through the same thing. 

If you live with or have experienced a mental health diagnosis, a heart event can make managing your psychological health challenging. Check in with your mental health support team and seek help in managing your physical, mental and emotional health.

If you are worried about your thoughts or how you are feeling and need urgent support, call Lifeline 13 11 14.

 
Find a cardiac rehabilitation program in your area
 

You might also be interested in

5 warning signs of a heart attack that you may not know

5 warning signs of a heart attack that you may not know

5 warning signs of a heart attack that you may not know

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

Alcohol action plan

Alcohol action plan

Heart health information in your language

Heart health information in your language

A selection of heart health information brochures in a range languages...

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

Pauline is a nurse and shares advice for young people who have had a heart event or are recovering from surgery....

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

Blood pressure action plan

Blood pressure action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your blood pressure....

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Having a mental health condition can have a negative impact on your heart health and increase your risk of heart disease....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

You can help keep families like Paul’s together.

You can help keep families like Paul’s together.

You can help keep families like Paul’s together.

Archie was only 11 when he saw his dad, Paul, suffer a heart attack on the hockey field. ...

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

The Blueprint for an active Australia provides evidence-based actions to help address physical inactivity....

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

1 hour
Serves 4

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....

Kid-friendly lentil stew

Kid-friendly lentil stew

30 minutes
Serves 4

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

This is a common test done to find out angina symptoms, or during or after a heart attack. ...

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Hypertension clinical information and guidelines

Clinical information for diagnosis and management of hypertension....

Hot oats – (base recipe)

Hot oats – (base recipe)

Hot oats – (base recipe)

10 minutes
Serves 2 (Makes 2 cups)

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

1 hour
Serves Serves 4 (as a main meal)

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Our supporters 

Working together to save Australian hearts...

For Professionals: Coronary artery calcium scoring

For Professionals: Coronary artery calcium scoring

The National Heart Foundation of Australia Position Statement: Coronary artery calcium scoring for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in Australia.¹...

Endorsement of externally developed clinical resources

Endorsement of externally developed clinical resources

Getting active at school

Getting active at school

Getting active at school

Physical activity resources for school staff....

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Many different thoughts may go through your head after a heart attack and you may be presented with complicated medical info. Know where to get support. ...

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Join the Heart Foundation in South Australia for the journey of a lifetime, trekking the ancient Flinders Ranges to help save Australian hearts....

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Key Statistics: Heart Failure

Statistics and information on heart failure in Australia ...

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Search through our vegetarian recipes...

$8 million for research into Australia's biggest killer - heart disease

$8 million for research into Australia's biggest killer - heart disease

$8 million for research into Australia's biggest killer - heart disease

Media release - 3 June 2021...

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

15 minutes
Serves 2

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

Heart Foundation welcomes funding pledge to support walking program in Tasmania

Heart Foundation welcomes funding pledge to support walking program in Tasmania

Heart Foundation welcomes funding pledge to support walking program in Tasmania

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Not all dairy products are equal. Discover different types of dairy foods and their impact on heart health....

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Our Heart Maps allow you to take a closer look at heart disease indicators across Australia....

Ranch dressing

Ranch dressing

Ranch dressing

Serves Makes 1 cup | Serves 6 (2 tablespoons – 40ml)

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

Find out what a healthy body weight is and the steps you can take to achieve it. ...

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Q&A with Dr Louise Segan

Q&A with Dr Louise Segan

Q&A with Dr Louise Segan

Optimal treatment of atrial fibrillation in people with cardiac dysfunction and scarring of the heart ...

Blueberry cheesecake oats

Blueberry cheesecake oats

Blueberry cheesecake oats

10 minutes
Serves 2