The emotional impact of a heart condition
There’s no right or wrong way to feel about having a heart condition. Many young people are affected emotionally, not just physically. Sometimes you might find it difficult to talk about the emotional impact of illness or your heart condition, and some people worry about what other people might think of them. Your mental health and wellbeing is just as important as your physical health, and there are plenty of people who you can talk to if you feel you need support in any way.
Being diagnosed with a heart condition
Being diagnosed with a heart condition can cause a whole range of emotions. You might be feeling frightened, stressed or anxious, and this is very common. Some people might even be surprised that they’re feeling relieved – sometimes it takes a long time to come to a diagnosis, and it feels like a burden has been lifted now you finally know the condition you have.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone, or you’re feeling quite low in mood, it’s important to reach out for support. This might be from family members, close friends or a healthcare professional.
You might also find it helpful to seek extra support around transitioning from paediatric services to adult care, or to talk to someone about your thoughts and feelings about what it’s like to live with a heart condition. Many young people also say they value opportunities to meet others living with heart conditions, to share experiences and realise they are not alone.
Signs and symptoms
Everyone’s mental health goes through changes, and it’s important to recognise when something is not quite right and to take care of your mental wellbeing. Feeling hopeless, down, tearful or low in mood is a normal response for many people, but most will start to feel better after a few days or weeks. If you’re noticing that you’re not improving after a few weeks it’s possible that you may be experiencing signs of depression.
If you are worried about how you are feeling or notice that you are feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, you should go to your GP to find out what options for support are available to you. It may also be helpful to talk to your family or friends about how you are feeling too. You can also speak to someone at your cardiac centre to find out what support is available from there.
Being told you need surgery can be a big deal and it’s normal to feel apprehensive or worried about this. Remember that your medical team are there to support you and answer your questions to help ease any concerns you may have. It can help to go to appointments prepared with any questions you may have, and if you’re still not sure get back in touch with your team, they are there to support you every step of the way.
Coming to terms with a heart condition
You may find it difficult adjusting to life with a heart condition, as it could require you to be out of school, university or work for a certain amount of time. You also may not be able to join in with certain sports and activities. Make sure there are people aware of your condition (teachers/friends/staff) who can offer you support to think about ways of managing this. Schools, universities and workplaces often need to make adaptations for people with long term health conditions who are still fit to work.
There are many places to turn to if you are looking for support.
Your GP is there to support you with your emotional wellbeing as well as your physical health and will be able to help you access local mental health support in your area.
Many schools and universities will have staff members who are designated mental health first aiders and you can go to them with any worries you might be having. If you are unsure who to ask about this, you can always ask a teacher you trust or your form tutor/head of year. Workplaces will also have policies in place to help support people living with long term conditions. There may be a rep on site who can advise you, or you can be referred to your occupational health department.
There are also many organisations that you can turn to for support;
If you need to talk through your feelings call 08457 90 90 90
(open 24 hours a day, charges apply) or email [email protected]
For information and support on anything heart related email us at [email protected]