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Anxiety, Depression Linked to Heart Disease and Stroke

6--heart-health-monthMonarch psychiatrist shares ways to avoid stressors and environmental triggers  

President Obama has declared February American Heart Month in efforts to raise awareness for the nation’s number one killer: heart disease.

As his federal declaration notes, “cardiovascular disease — including heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure — is responsible for one out of every three deaths. It is the No. 1 killer of American women and men, and it is a leading cause of serious illness and disability.”

One risk factor that can contribute to stroke and heart disease is anxiety. In a study released by the American Heart Association (AHA) they found that stroke and heart disease are connected to high levels of anxiety.

“Anxiety increases the heart rate which may increase blood pressure, which then can lead to increased risk of stroke and/or heart disease,” explained Dr. Sharyn Comeau, one of Monarch’s psychiatrists.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most prevalent mental health problems, and symptoms include feeling unusually worried, stressed, nervous or tense.
 
“Constant stress will decrease serotonin, which will cause anxiety problems, and when anxiety isn’t treated you become depressed. It’s a vicious cycle,” explained Comeau, who agreed reducing anxiety is a must, but said it is often hard in our fast-paced society.   

Comeau shared ways to avoid anxiety and stress generated by daily life, including decreasing caffeine in the afternoon, having a similar routine and same bedtime every night, refraining from using email after a certain hour, decreasing the amount of stimuli before going to bed, and exercising regularly. She also recommended carving out time to “do nothing” which allows the brain to rest                                                                                   

“We’re so motivated to succeed we don’t realize by stopping and being still we could actually become more creative,” she explained.

For more information on Heart Health Month visit: http://blog.heart.org/president-obama-declares-february-american-heart-month/

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