Where to find support with your health condition
Getting support can be a crucial part of living well with a health condition. Rachael Healy gives tips on where you can find it.
Depression is two to three times more common in people living with heart and circulatory conditions. Your chances of anxiety are also raised, and the two problems often overlap. As well as looking after your physical health, it’s important to find the right way to keep your mind healthy.
Heart Support Groups
Run by patients and volunteers, heart support groups offer the chance to speak to people who’ve had experiences similar to yours. At Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, The Ticker Club supports patients who’ve had or are about to undergo a cardiac or vascular procedure. Volunteers meet patients in waiting rooms and when they arrive on wards, and will chat one-on-one by phone, email or in person.
“People can talk to somebody who’s had a procedure done, which is very important,” says Ticker Club Chairman John Phillips. “Only we, who’ve been through it, can know what’s going on in people’s minds. We’re there to allay fears. If you know what’s going to happen, it does make the journey a little bit easier.”
Anxiety during recovery is also fairly common. The Ticker Club offers reassurance, the chance to talk about it, and helps point people in the direction of useful services.
Find a Heart Support Group near you or call 0300 330 3300. If you’re in Scotland, contact Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland on 0131 225 6963.
Our online community, hosted by HealthUnlocked is a space where people with heart and circulatory conditions can start conversations or ask questions about anything that’s concerning them. Other patients share encouragement and friendly advice. Regular users, called Heart Stars, help guide new users and keep conversations on track.
If you’ve been suffering from low mood or anxiety, there are a number of ways to access counselling and other therapies. Some GP practices offer these but, if not, your GP can refer you to a specialist local service.
You can also contact your nearest psychological therapies service directly and refer yourself – search online for ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT)’ to find one near you. You can also find a directory of other free or low-cost psychotherapy options, compiled by therapists.
If you’re not sure what kind of support you need, or want to learn more about psychological therapies, visit the Mind website, or call them on 0300 123 3393.
Your GP may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, sometimes in combination with talking therapies.