Mind Your Health: The Connection Between Depression & Heart Health

A  cheerful  heart  is  good  medicine,  but  a  crushed  spirit dries up the bones. —Proverbs 17:22

An excerpt from my book, It’s Always the Heart

Realizing the severity of the symptoms, Mrs. Tallent (as we will call her)  had the presence of mind to slowly lower herself to the floor of the bathroom and crawl to the telephone to call her daughter, who summoned the paramedics to Mrs. Tallent’s home. On the paramedics’ arrival, Mrs. Tallent was pale and short of breath, and she had broken into a cold sweat.  She was still having chest discomfort, and it was becoming harder to breathe.

Hearing the emergency-room physician declare, “Mrs. Tallent, you are having a heart attack,” felt like a dream.

The nausea didn’t subside even when lying down, causing her to feel as though she were going to pass out at any moment. On arrival at her local small-town emergency room, she was taken to the chest pain center,  and her clinical situation was quickly assessed.  Following blood tests and an electrocardiogram,  treatment was initiated to relieve Mary’s symptoms. Hearing the emergency-room physician declare, “Mrs. Tallent, you are having a heart attack,” felt like a dream—Looking back on that evening, I’m not sure I’ll ever witness a moment that would better illustrate the confidence and comfort alluded to by David in Psalm23:4:  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

God warns us the Devil works at times through our physical illnesses to introduce doubt and fear, which was precisely how Mrs. Tallent would be attacked now that she had faced death from interruption of blood flow to her most vital organ. There were no other blockages,  but the damage remained in Mary’s mind. I was confident that God would use Mrs. Tallent’s near-death experience as a beautiful example of how someone can heal physically and spiritually from an attack on his or her most important organ. God gives hearts the same importance in spiritual health as well as physical health. Experience had taught me that despite her standing on a solid foundation, it would take a healing of Mrs. Tallent’s spiritual heart as she battled the lies of the Devil that she would always have a heart problem.

Research shows that depression can increase the risk of heart disease and can worsen an existing condition. According to the American Psychological Association, long-term studies reveal that men and women diagnosed with clinical depression are more than twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease or suffer a heart attack. On the other hand, happy people have healthier levels of fibrinogen and cortisol in their blood, making them less vulnerable to cardiovascular disease. This research reflects the truth found in Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine,  but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Just like any other condition, we must address the spiritual and physical condition of the heart to experience healing.

Just like any other condition, we must address the spiritual and physical condition of the heart to experience healing. Depression can make us feel hopeless, and the only thing that will actually change this is God’s hope. God’s hope is encouraging and motivating, and His Word is full of scriptures reflecting this. Proverbs 23:18 says, “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off”. Psalm 37:9 tells us, “Those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land”, and Psalm 42:5 says, “Why are you downcast, o my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God”. When facing depression, put your hope in Him.

Depression must also be addressed physically. The Cleveland Clinic gives great tips on dealing with depression. Check them out below!

1)     Get dressed every day

2)     Get out and walk daily

3)     Resume hobbies and social activities you enjoy

4)     Share your feeling with your spouse, friend, or member of the clergy

5)     Don’t use harmful habits to cope, such as smoking, using drugs, drinking excessively or                  overeating. These harmful habits increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.