Roughly 3.2 million women suffer myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) each year. According to the American Heart Association, these women have a 20% higher risk of death within five years compared to men. There are several reasons for this, including many physical reasons. But one potential cause of heart disease and heart attacks in women you may not have considered is their mental health.
There is a strong relationship between psychology and health. That’s why it’s not only vital to ensure your physical health but also your mental health. As a woman, it’s crucial to understand that heart disease is the number one killer of women over the age of 50.
One step you can take to support your mental health is to find a medical psychologist who specializes in cardiac psychology. They can help you develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes nurturing your physical and mental health.
What is Cardiac Psychology?
Cardiac psychology is a form of medical psychology that focuses on the relationship between psychology and women’s heart health. A cardiac psychologist addresses the role psychological and behavioral factors play in the development and management of cardiovascular diseases like heart disease, which could lead to a heart attack.
When you partner with a cardiac psychologist, you’ll benefit from a holistic approach to improving your quality of life. By addressing the relationship between your psychology and your health, you’ll see better overall mental and physical health outcomes.
How Psychology and Cardiac Disease Affect One Another
While the heart and mind connection has been alluded to over the years, its importance has only been recently emphasized thanks to the book, “Heart and Mind: The Practice of Cardiac Psychology.” This 1996
publication, written by Robert Allan and Jeffrey Fisher, sparked ongoing research into the link between psychosocial factors and heart disease.
Since then, researchers have found that depression and cardiac disease are significantly correlated. In fact, beginning in 2008, the undeniable research findings caused the American Heart Association to begin recommending depression screenings for cardiovascular patients. The medical community is increasingly aware of how important it is to treat depression in the prevention or reduction of the progress of heart disease.
The relationship between psychology and health has also been found to be bidirectional. That means that poor mental health can negatively impact heart health, and poor heart health can negatively impact mental health.
Studies have shown that almost half of all patients who have heart procedures deal with depression and anxiety following the procedure. Additionally, increased depression and anxiety can lead to further heart health problems. Because of this, it’s important to trust in a cardiac psychologist so you can help prevent heart health concerns or prevent additional heart issues.
Why is Cardiac Psychology So Important for Women?
Because of the crucial relationship between your psychology and your health, women must especially pay attention to how they feel mentally and emotionally. Women tend to feel the effects of psychological and psychosocial stress more significantly than men, which, in turn, can negatively impact heart health.
Cardiac psychology is crucial for women for several additional reasons:
- Women are more prone to cardiovascular disease: Though cardiovascular disease (CVD) is often thought of as a “man’s disease,” more women die from heart disease than from all forms of cancer combined. As the number one cause of death in women globally, it’s vital women take care of their mental and physical health by regularly seeing their doctor and cardiac psychologist.
- Gender differences in experiencing cardiac symptoms: Many women experience different cardiac symptoms than men. They may have more atypical symptoms or describe them differently. With the help of a medical or cardiac psychologist, they can learn how to recognize and address symptoms.
- Depression and anxiety in women: More women experience depression and anxiety, or at least, tend to seek help more often for mental health concerns. As mentioned earlier, research has shown how depression is closely linked to heart health issues. A cardiac psychologist can help you work through your depression and anxiety, improving your overall and heart health.
- Hormonal changes in women: Menopause means many hormonal changes for women. These hormonal changes alone and how you deal with them can negatively affect your heart health. Women over the age of 50 are at a greater risk for developing CVD, so it’s crucial to stay on top of your mental and physical health as you age.
- Women can experience significant ongoing stress: Both men and women deal with stress. However, women often juggle multiple roles throughout their lives – as caregivers, professionals, mothers, partners, etc. The stress you experience day in and day out significantly impacts your heart health. A mental health professional specializing in cardiac psychology can help you learn how to manage stress better and protect your heart.
- Specialized support tailored to women: A cardiac psychologist can provide heart health education tailored specifically to you as a woman. They can help address your unique challenges and needs for better mental and physical health.
Cardiac psychology addresses the unique psychological, behavioral, and social factors that influence your heart health as a woman. Combining regular visits to your doctor with seeing a cardiac psychologist ensures holistic and effective treatment so you can try to live a longer, healthier life.
Specialized Cardiac Psychology Treatment in California and Ontario
I understand the relationship between psychology and health and am very passionate about women’s heart and mental health. As a medical psychologist specializing in women’s health psychology, I can guide you through any mental health concern you face, including those stemming from physical health concerns. I am also a multicultural therapist who understands the intergenerational and cultural stress women from varying cultures experience.
I provide compassionate, effective online therapy for women throughout Ontario and California and am happy to help you on your journey to better mental, physical, and heart health. Contact me for more information about my services, including therapy for women, divorce therapy, and trauma therapy.