Heart failure

Bad days, anxiety and depression

Not everyone with heart failure has 'bad days' nor should people expect necessarily to feel anxious or depressed because they have heart failure. Those we talked to responded to having heart failure in various ways; some were stoical, some were philosophical, some talked about their condition with humour, but most people with heart failure at some time or other had experienced what they called 'bad days' as well as some anxiety and depression.

Many people described having a 'bad day' as needing to rest and take things easy after which they would feel better. Some couldn't account for their bad days or said that bad days could happen if they had done too much the day before. There were also those who said that their bad days were caused by the pain they associated with having angina.

Many people said they had become more anxious since having heart failure and that the condition itself played on their minds. Others talked about feeling more anxious when things went wrong with friends and family. Several people who had experienced bouts of depression which were out of character thought that the depression may have been a side effect of their medication; one man described how he felt before a change of medication improved this. A woman who described feeling very low after leaving hospital said that she had eventually re-discovered her motivation and had started to feel better in herself.

Some said their emotions were closer to the surface since having heart failure and one or two mentioned being more short-tempered with their partner. Others said they cried more easily and were unable to watch weepy films or television programmes without getting upset. A woman described how she empathised with others more and had become more aware of 'life' since having heart failure. Someone else wondered if his heightened sensitivity to life was due to his medication.

Though some took each day as it came and did not dwell on the future, many found this hard to do. They worried about how their family would manage if they died and about their own state of health and whether their condition was getting worse. Many found the uncertainty of life with heart failure particularly hard to cope with.


Last reviewed April 2016.
Last updated July 2014.


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