Facing a heart disease diagnosis can be intimidating. And it is true that heart disease requires lifelong management. But it doesn’t have to be scary. A few simple lifestyle changes can set you up for success.

The Mental Health and Heart Disease Connection

A heart disease diagnosis is life-altering. After an episode, you may feel differently about yourself and your body, your loved ones, and life in general. Even as the physical symptoms subside and you learn to manage your new reality, facing your mortality can shake you up.

“Immediately after a heart attack, it can be difficult to determine what’s happening — whether [a depressed mood] is part of the normal healing process, or if it’s truly depression,” says Sharonne N. Hayes, M.D., Director of the Women’s Heart Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. “A total of five symptoms have to be present for two weeks to make a diagnosis.” These symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Inability to enjoy usual activities
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Appetite changes – eating too little or too much, including changes in weight
  • Behavior changes– either agitated or sluggish
  • Decreased energy (fatigue)
  • Sense of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty with concentration, indecisive
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

There is a lot you can do to prevent or address depression following a heart disease diagnosis.


Advocacy. Laws and public policies make access to affordable health insurance, heart disease research, women’s inclusion in medical research, and more — all of which are essential to preventing and curing heart disease among women. WomenHeart works to advance federal policies that support women living with and at risk of heart disease, and we train and encourage women to be advocates for themselves.

It’s important that you be empowered to make your voice heard, whether it be with your doctor, insurance provider, or elected official. We are here to provide the resources and tools you need to be most effective.

Take Action Now. Sign up below to receive WomenHeart email updates, including advocacy action alerts, so you can communicate directly to your lawmakers about matters that impact women with heart disease.

Make your voice heard in our ongoing campaigns.

We have number of policy priorities that guide our work. We are committed to ensuring:

Access to health coverage and care. Access to cardiac rehabilitation. Increased representation of women in clinical trials and medical research. Full funding for heart and stroke research. Awareness and support around pregnancy and heart disease.

Read our Federal Policy Agenda for 2021-2022.

Read the Advocacy in Action section of the WomenHeart blog for up-to-date information on what’s happening in Washington.

More federal policy resources:

The Affordable Care Act

Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehab Care Act

Comments on Health Care Rights Law Proposed Rule

Comments to NIH Office of Women’s Health Research