People with heart failure are three times more likely to suffer depression than people in the wider community.

Could you benefit from counselling?

Do you care for someone who suffers from cardiac illness? Or do you suffer from cardiac illness yourself? A newly released report suggests that emotional and psychological support for your situation may be a vital component to managing the illness and its affect on your health and happiness.

A recent study* published in the medical journal Heart, Lung and Circulation has found that people with heart failure are three times more likely to suffer depression than people in the wider community.

Heart failure is a chronic illness which affects the heart’s capacity to pump blood around the body. It causes excess fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and swelling of the ankles.

It is estimated that approximately 300,000 Australians, mostly aged over 60, are currently living with heart failure.

Of these, the study suggests that 25% of persons with heart failure report feeling depressed or experiencing bouts of depression. Following on from this staggering statistic, it seems clear that where a patient suffers from heart failure, their psychological health should also be carefully monitored. Indeed, the substantially higher rate of depression in heart failure patients suggests that treatment options for the emotional and psychological health of these patients is essential.

But it is not just the patients who get easily depressed. It is their partners too, who are usually responsible for the primary care of the patient. These carers often experience high levels of stress and have little time for their own needs.

Andrew Stewart, a PHD candidate and one of the study’s authors, was quoted in The West Australian as suggesting that counselling in these situations “may need to focus on the partner and the patient as a unit, rather than the patient alone” (AAP, 14/5/09). “There may also be a role for couple counselling that focuses more on the couple’s support and adjustment to living with a chronic disease to prevent the onset of depression” he said.

You can also take our depression checklist to see if you are a likely depression sufferer.

For individual therapeutic support for depression, or to attend as a couple, please contact

Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney

*Stewart, Duggeon and Hare, “Heart Failure Patient Depression Predicted by Both Partner Depression and Caregiving Insensitivity: The Two Hearts Study”, Heart, Lung and Circulation, Vol. 17 (3) 2008)

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