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jeffer
@jeffer

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Joined: Dec 10, 2016

Depression in Heart Disease

Posted by @jeffer, Dec 10, 2016

My son has congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy. He isn’t sick enough to be a transplant candidate yet – but will ultimately have to have the transplant. He is severely depressed and won’t ask for help, won’t attend a support group, is lashing out at the doctors and nurses at Mayo and I’m afraid for him. Is anyone else dealing with this? My son is 48 years old.

REPLY

Hello @jeffer,

Welcome to Connect; we are so glad that you’ve come here to seek some answers so that you can help your son.
Heart failure can be very hard on one’s emotions. Your son may feel depressed that he can’t do some of the things he used to do, and the symptoms of heart failure can just make this anxiety worse.

Let me introduce you to @thankful, @rhiannonmb, @frank4848, @matthew86, @callalily74, @lyndamm, @mlemieux, @cynaburst, @latisha, @susanweir, @vivian88, @eelnaloblob18, @bibi12. I am sure they will give you more insight into the support that you can offer your son.

@jeffer, with what type of cardiomyopathy has your son been diagnosed? There is a whole online community ready to support you here, in the HCM (Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy) group:
http://mayocl.in/2eJdqOc

I have learned much about this, some of it at Mayo. First, never tell Mayo what you think is wrong with you, regardless of who your source is. They will say “I will find out for myself. We assume any other person or institution is wrong.” Then they will look for any other answer, and ignore what you went there for in the first place. I have cancer everywhere, probably in every gland and organ I have, so Mayo just looked at areas where the cancer had not showed itself yet. I have various cancers (some are named AL Amyloidosis) in or on my blood, urine, prostate, toes, ankle, wrist, skin, kidney, bladder, kidney, liver, pancreas, spleen, lung, heart (but not yet into heart nerves), brain, used to have thyroid until Mayo took thyroid and goiter out, tongue, sinus, larynx (until a surgeon cut off that section), and some others. And in my family there have been about 20 cases like mine, and some are still alive. But looking for fresh ground may be the biggest help. Now, about the depression, etc. You may need to have that long talk with your son where you say “The truth about life is that all of us die some day, sooner or later. The only potential option we have is to make friends with God, hoping that there is some kind of eternity. At 76 I am not afraid to die, or even bitter about it. But I am bitter that Mayo will not even try to sort out what I can do to live a little longer, even a couple weeks.

Hello @oldkarl,

I’m sorry to hear that you feel like this. It sounds like you’ve taken the appropriate steps to seek care at Mayo Clinic. Our physician experts have likely reviewed your case with their colleagues at all times, and sometimes their review may lead them to determine that Mayo Clinic cannot offer any further treatment for you at this time.

oldkarl, I know that your advice to @jeffer for his son comes from a good heart, and is something we all may have to face someday. But I would also like to add that living with a chronic illness is a challenge, and it’s normal to feel grief or depressed as you come to terms with your condition and its implications.
@jeffer, you have already taken the first step, that is, reaching out to a wonderful community for support, and staying connected.
I do hope that some of the members and mentors will join this discussion soon.

@kanaazpereira

Hello @oldkarl,

I’m sorry to hear that you feel like this. It sounds like you’ve taken the appropriate steps to seek care at Mayo Clinic. Our physician experts have likely reviewed your case with their colleagues at all times, and sometimes their review may lead them to determine that Mayo Clinic cannot offer any further treatment for you at this time.

oldkarl, I know that your advice to @jeffer for his son comes from a good heart, and is something we all may have to face someday. But I would also like to add that living with a chronic illness is a challenge, and it’s normal to feel grief or depressed as you come to terms with your condition and its implications.
@jeffer, you have already taken the first step, that is, reaching out to a wonderful community for support, and staying connected.
I do hope that some of the members and mentors will join this discussion soon.

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Hi Jeffer. I’m sorry about your son’s two diagnoses. I was diagnosed with Apical Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. I’ve also suffered from Depression, but for me the Depression has been a life long battle since I was a teenager. All I can tell you is to be there for him & supportive. It’s really all you can do, and try & help him relax, maybe bring something to the hospital that will help calm him down, like something he likes to do, a hobby such as a game, books or something else that would keep him occupied and then maybe he’ll spend less time on lashing out at the doctors and start focusing on something that makes him happy instead. I know when I had to go to the Mayo Clinic for testing, I kept myself busy by bringing my laptop along and playing games when I wasn’t in appointments, it really helped pass the time. And also because I absolutely love gaming.

I know how your son feels. I was diagnosed with severe restrictive cardiomyopathy unexpectedly. No explanation and no family history. I was extremely active at 50 years old and suddenly warned I had to stop how I was living until they could get me a bit better. Medication worked for about six months. Earlier this year I got a pacemaker at 52. It is easy to get depressed but I began looking at life a bit different. Its been hard but I am determined to get active again and continue trying to keep my quality of life as high as I can. Keeping busy has helped a lot

I forgot to mention before, my Cardiomyopathy isn’t as advanced as your son so I’m not as restricted, but I completely understand how your son must feel too, even though I’m not in Heart Failure, I’m limited on how much excercise I can do, and when it comes to housework I get exhausted really fast & the chest pain can be unbareable at times, and sometimes I get so depressed about it I just wanna die, but then I remember that I have so many ppl that love me and it gives me a reason to wanna keep on living. And I hope that your son thinks about those things too, and if he doesn’t remind him of how many ppl that need him in their lives and love him. It will help him have a reason to keep on fighting to survive.

Hi, Jeffer, I have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and have battled depression off and on. My disease is also not as advanced as your son’s. but it is a difficult diagnosis to deal with. People don’t see the disease-we often look healthy which makes it even more difficult. We long for our old life and long to do what our friends do. I do take “chill pills” sometimes at night,though I try not to do that more than one day a week. All you can do at this point is be there for him, sit with him and hope he listens at some point. It’s a very difficult situation for you and for him. There is no one size fits all, though I wish there were!

Hello Jeffer,
It is hard, to give specific support without knowing many more things about what is going on….But here are a couple things for you to think about that may help you understand, while your son is not communicating very well. First, you used the words ” very depressed” …. now adays many people use the word ” depressed ” where we used to use the words sad and angry. Unless he actually communicates with a mental health professional….depression cannot be diagnosed. So hopefully, at some point he will choose to do that, in case he needs medication and or therapy. Second, a certain amount of withdrawal and anger is normal when adjusting to a health condition with an unsettling prognosis. We actually go through a grieving process, where we grieve for our healthy self and the life we imagined we would have……. which now we have lost. You may want to read up on the stages of grief and what can be done to help some one through them. Love him instead of worrying about him…..He may not choose you as his confidant because your his mother and he doesn’t want to burden you. Is there a close friend or other relative that might reach out to him? Anger and lashing out are more common coping mechanisms in men. Anger and lashing out makes them feel powerful and in control in a situation where they are somewhat powerless and vulnerable. If he was never one to verbaliz his feelings in the past, he won’t have the skills to do so now.

So, tell him you love him, tell him you recognize how hard it is for such a strong vibrant person to find out he is so ill …..and tell him that when he is ready, you will help him find a professional to teach him how to cope with his illness without lashing out at those who care about him.

@jillc

Hello Jeffer,
It is hard, to give specific support without knowing many more things about what is going on….But here are a couple things for you to think about that may help you understand, while your son is not communicating very well. First, you used the words ” very depressed” …. now adays many people use the word ” depressed ” where we used to use the words sad and angry. Unless he actually communicates with a mental health professional….depression cannot be diagnosed. So hopefully, at some point he will choose to do that, in case he needs medication and or therapy. Second, a certain amount of withdrawal and anger is normal when adjusting to a health condition with an unsettling prognosis. We actually go through a grieving process, where we grieve for our healthy self and the life we imagined we would have……. which now we have lost. You may want to read up on the stages of grief and what can be done to help some one through them. Love him instead of worrying about him…..He may not choose you as his confidant because your his mother and he doesn’t want to burden you. Is there a close friend or other relative that might reach out to him? Anger and lashing out are more common coping mechanisms in men. Anger and lashing out makes them feel powerful and in control in a situation where they are somewhat powerless and vulnerable. If he was never one to verbaliz his feelings in the past, he won’t have the skills to do so now.

So, tell him you love him, tell him you recognize how hard it is for such a strong vibrant person to find out he is so ill …..and tell him that when he is ready, you will help him find a professional to teach him how to cope with his illness without lashing out at those who care about him.

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@jillc– Well said! @jeffer, I hope you take these sage words of love & kindness to heart. Sometimes when we feel so vulnerable, it’s good to pause, think, and reflect on others words. I believe that jillc’s words touch on the very heart of the matter with your son.
I fully support them and want to encourage you today. This is a journey we are all on and just when we think we have it figured out, there is a detour and we have choices as how to proceed. I believe in a higher power and for me I had a large detour that I encountered in my journey. I believe He is showing me the way. It is a daily decision on how we want to proceed. I choose life and each day I wake and give thanks for a new day, breath, family, love, Life. Ponder

This is a great blog piece I just came across about some non-pharmalogical ways to deal with depression for heart patients. Perhaps some of these ideas may be useful? I have also found medication to be very helpful when indicated.

https://myheartsisters.org/2011/08/05/non-drug-therapies-for-depression-in-heart-patients/

@cynaburst

This is a great blog piece I just came across about some non-pharmalogical ways to deal with depression for heart patients. Perhaps some of these ideas may be useful? I have also found medication to be very helpful when indicated.

https://myheartsisters.org/2011/08/05/non-drug-therapies-for-depression-in-heart-patients/

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Great blog to cite Cynaburst. This blog is written by @carolynthomas.

@cynaburst

This is a great blog piece I just came across about some non-pharmalogical ways to deal with depression for heart patients. Perhaps some of these ideas may be useful? I have also found medication to be very helpful when indicated.

https://myheartsisters.org/2011/08/05/non-drug-therapies-for-depression-in-heart-patients/

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I am a big fan of @carolynthomas and Heart Sisters. I follow her on Twitter and find her articles very informative and well researched.

@cynaburst

This is a great blog piece I just came across about some non-pharmalogical ways to deal with depression for heart patients. Perhaps some of these ideas may be useful? I have also found medication to be very helpful when indicated.

https://myheartsisters.org/2011/08/05/non-drug-therapies-for-depression-in-heart-patients/

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Me too.

Depression can be bad for the health specially if you get too angry or upset about it. Cause for me my Blood Pressure Spikes up High if I get really angry or overly upset. And that’s even with medicine, emotions can be a dangerous combination if they get out of control so it’s best to find a way to cope with that. Anyways I hope the blog or something here works for your son.

@kanaazpereira

Hello @oldkarl,

I’m sorry to hear that you feel like this. It sounds like you’ve taken the appropriate steps to seek care at Mayo Clinic. Our physician experts have likely reviewed your case with their colleagues at all times, and sometimes their review may lead them to determine that Mayo Clinic cannot offer any further treatment for you at this time.

oldkarl, I know that your advice to @jeffer for his son comes from a good heart, and is something we all may have to face someday. But I would also like to add that living with a chronic illness is a challenge, and it’s normal to feel grief or depressed as you come to terms with your condition and its implications.
@jeffer, you have already taken the first step, that is, reaching out to a wonderful community for support, and staying connected.
I do hope that some of the members and mentors will join this discussion soon.

Jump to this post

I love your attitude. When we have a sense of acceptance over our condition, we are really just stepping into our purpose. When we can share our experience with others and take charge best we can, we encounter so many blessings; new friends, medical professionals, new strength, new appreciation and gratitude for our lives. Keep up the great attitude and update on how you are doing. It’s amazing, when we reach out to others, we immediately make ourselves available to support, friendship, hope, laughter, etc. all the things we need to heal and really live life to the fullest!

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