Profound sadness doesn't just weigh heavy on your mind. It significantly impacts your body. The depths of despair can lower your immune system, increase blood pressure and heart rate - and cause significant muscle weakness, just to name a few. Stress from grief can flood the body with hormones, specifically Cortisol, which causes that heavy-achy-feeling you get in your chest area.
The heartache that comes with depression can increase the likelihood of a heart attack. In fact, a recent study showed that a person with a depressive disorder and a heart condition were 5 times more likely to die than a person with depression alone or a heart condition alone. The actual medical term for this deeply emotional mind/body experience is called "Stress Cardiomyopathy."
You might know the colloquial term better: A broken heart.
What you might not know is that women are ten times more likely to suffer from Broken Heart Syndrome than men.
Tips for Broken Heart Syndrome
If you have heartache and you're in despair consider these tips:
Behrens, C.B . et. al. (2010). Major depression as a potential trigger for Takitsubo Cardiomyopathy. International Journal of Cardiology, 15;140(2):40-2.
Bybee, K.A. & Prasaad, A. (2008). Stress related cardiomyopathy syndromes. Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, 118:397-409.
Nabi, H. et. al. (2010).Effects of depressive symptoms and coronary heart disease and their interactive associations on mortality in middle-aged adults. Heart, 96:1645-1650.
Editorial Note: Dr. Deborah Serani is the author of the award-winning book Living with Depression."