It is common for you to feel sad or depressed after you leave the hospital. These emotions may be the result of not knowing what to expect or not being able to do simple tasks without becoming overly tired. Temporary feelings of sadness are normal, and should gradually go away within a few weeks, as you get back to your normal routine and activities.
To help relieve the emotional blues:
- Get dressed every day.
- Walk daily.
- Resume hobbies and social activities you enjoy.
- Share your feelings with others.
- Visit with others. Limit your visits to 15 minutes at first. Then increase them depending on how you feel.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- Join a support group or cardiac rehabilitation program.
Sometimes, however, a depressed mood can prevent you from leading a normal life. When a depressed mood is severe and accompanied by other symptoms that persist every day for two or more weeks, treatment is necessary to help you cope and recover.
More specific reasons to seek help include:
- You have suicidal thoughts or feelings. Suicide is an irreversible solution to problems and causes permanent harm to family members and friends. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call your physician or local 24-hour suicide hotline right away, or go to the nearest emergency room for help.
- Your negative feelings persist for any length of time.
- You don’t have anyone in whom you can confide. If you don’t have anyone to share your thoughts with, it’s hard to know if what you’re thinking makes sense.
Without treatment, depression can become worse. For heart patients, depression can contribute to an increased risk of heart attack and coronary disease. Your health care provider can refer you to a mental health specialist who can provide the appropriate treatment when necessary.
Some people become frustrated during recovery from heart surgery because they feel they are not as sharp mentally as they were before surgery. These cognitive changes are normal after heart surgery. The entire body, including the brain, was seriously stressed during surgery, especially if the surgery involved stopping the heart and circulating the blood through a heart-lung machine. With time, in most cases, normal cognitive functioning returns. Patience is needed to avoid the frustration that can accompany this side effect of surgery. You should not force yourself to work or perform mentally stressful tasks, such as balancing a checkbook in the first couple of weeks after surgery.