How you can help
If you have recognised depression or anxiety in your partner or relative, there are many things that you can do to help.
You may like to consider some of the following:
- Talk to them about their feelings, but allow them to open up in their own time. Once the question has been asked, your partner or relative may need time to find the best way to respond.
- Involve family and friends in their care, if this is appropriate, so your partner or relative maintains contact with others. Activities can be planned with friends and family to help them get out and about and reduce their isolation.
- Encourage them to learn more about managing their heart failure if they are feeling uncertain or fearful about things.
- Help them understand their treatment plan and give them practical support to stick to it.
- Help them generally increase their activity level and take regular exercise. Regular physical activity (even just a few minutes every day) is an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. Your local cardiac rehabilitation centre will be able to tell you if they have any programmes for low-intensity training.
- Help make sure they get enough sleep. Research has shown that people who do not feel rested, or who do not get enough sleep, often feel depressed.
- Encourage them to participate in new activities so they maintain an active interest in life and learning new things.
- Encourage them to consider joining a support group for people with heart failure. Support groups are not for everyone but many people get a lot of benefit from them.
- Get help from their doctor or nurse. Depression can be a side effect of some heart failure medicines. If your partner or relative’s depression is not improving, or getting worse, the doctor or nurse can refer them to a specialist, such as a psychologist.
- Take care of your own health. Heart failure is a life-long condition and if you don’t take care of yourself, you could become exhausted or even ill yourself.