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Depression and Coronary Artery Disease

Topic Overview

There is a link between depression and coronary artery disease. People with heart disease are more likely to get depression. And if a person has both depression and heart disease, they may not stay as healthy as possible. They are less likely to take their medicines and get regular exercise. And this may raise their risk of having a heart attack.

Watch for symptoms of depression

Depression causes you to feel sad or hopeless much of the time. It's different from normal feelings of sadness, grief, or low energy. Depression is a medical problem that needs treatment. If you think you may be depressed, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment right away. Untreated depression may get worse. And your heart disease may get worse too.

If you think you may have depression, take this short quiz to check your symptoms: Interactive Tool: Are You Depressed?

Your doctor can help

If you have heart disease, your doctor will probably ask you some simple questions to check for any symptoms of depression. But if you think you have symptoms of depression, do not wait to ask for help. Your doctor can help find out if you are depressed and talk to you about your options for treatment.

On your regular doctor visits, he or she might ask how often you have been bothered by any of the following problems in past 2 weeks:

  • You don't have interest or pleasure in doing things.
  • You feel down, depressed, or hopeless.

If your doctor thinks you might have depression symptoms, he or she will ask you more about your symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to another doctor who diagnoses and treats depression.

Ask for help

If you think you might be depressed, talk to your doctor. The sooner you know if you are depressed, the sooner you can get treatment. Treating depression is good for your health.

Many people have concerns about seeking treatment for a mental health problem. You might feel too embarrassed to ask for help. Or maybe you think that you'll get over depression on your own. You may think it's a sign of weakness, or you don't want people to know about it. It's important to overcome these reasons for not seeking treatment.

Take care of yourself

If you have depression and heart disease, try hard to stay healthy. Having both of these conditions can make it hard to take your medicines or do healthy things like exercise and eat right.

For help staying healthy when you have depression, see the topic Depression.

For friends and family

If you think that someone you know is depressed, the best thing you can do is to get the person to see a doctor. The sooner someone with depression gets treatment, the sooner he or she will feel better.

For more information on how you can help your loved one, see the topics:

Health Tools

Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.

Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition.
Interactive tools are designed to help people determine health risks, ideal weight, target heart rate, and more.


Other Works Consulted

  • Lichtman JH, et al. (2008). Depression and coronary heart disease: Recommendations for screening, referral, and treatment: A science advisory from the American Heart Association Prevention Committee of the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing, Council on Clinical Cardiology, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and Interdisciplinary Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research: Endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association. Circulation, 118(17): 1768–1775.
  • Smith SC, et al. (2011). AHA/ACCF secondary prevention and risk reduction therapy for patients with coronary and other atherosclerotic vascular disease: 2011 update: A guideline from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Foundation. Circulation, 124(22): 2458–2473. Also available online:


Current as of:
August 31, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Robert A. Kloner MD, PhD - Cardiology
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine