Co-Occurrence of Depression With Heart Disease

  • Depression and heart disease go hand-in-hand. High correlation between depression and increased risk of dying in patients with coronary heart disease.Depression is a common, serious and costly illness that affects 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. each year, costs the Nation between $30 - $44 billion annually, and causes impairment, suffering, and disruption of personal, family, and work life.

  • Though 80 percent of depressed people can be effectively treated, nearly two out of three of those suffering from this illness do not seek or receive appropriate treatment. Effective treatments include both medication and psychotherapy, which are sometimes used in combination.

Depression Co-occurs With Heart Disease

  • Of particular significance, depression and heart disease go hand-in-hand. When this happens, the presence of the additional illness, depression, is frequently unrecognized, leading to serious and unnecessary consequences for patients and families.

  • Though depressed feelings can be a common reaction to heart disease, clinical depression is not the expected reaction. For this reason, when present, specific treatment should be considered for clinical depression even in the presence of heart disease

  • Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of depression may bring substantial benefits to the patient through improved medical status, enhanced quality of life, a reduction in the degree of pain and disability, and improved treatment compliance and cooperation.

More Facts

Research has documented a high correlation between depression and increased risk of dying or impairment in patients with coronary heart disease:

  • In coronary heart disease patients with a history of myocardial infarction (heart attack), the prevalence of various forms of depression is estimated from 40 to 65 percent.
  • 18-20 percent of coronary heart patients without a history of heart attack may experience depression.
  • Major depression puts heart attack victims at greater risk and appears to add to the patients' disability from heart disease. Depression can contribute to a worsening of symptoms as well as poor adherence to cardiac treatment regimens.
  • People who survive heart attacks but suffer from major depression have a 3-4 times greater risk of dying within six months than those who do not suffer from depression.


  • Persistent, sad or "empty" mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia, early-morning waking or oversleeping)
  • Eating disturbances (loss of appetite and weight, or weight gain)
  • Irritability
  • Difficult concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • Excessive crying
  • Chronic aches and pains that don't respond to treatment
If a person has five or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it is important that these symptoms be brought to the attention of the individual's health care provider.

Action Steps

Don't Ignore Symptoms! Health care professionals should always be aware of the possibility of depression co-occurring with heart disease. Patients or family members with concerns about this possibility should discuss these issues with the individual's physicians. A consultation with a psychiatrist or other mental health clinician may be recommended to clarify the diagnosis.

Get the Word Out! Emphasize the importance of professional and public awareness of the co-occurrence of depression with heart disease and proper diagnosis and treatment of depression.

Community, Professional, Advocacy Organizations, and the Media Can Help spread important messages about depression co-occurring with heart disease.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 13). Co-Occurrence of Depression With Heart Disease, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Last Updated: June 24, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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