DALLAS (AP) -- Heart patients should be regularly screened for signs of depression, according to a statement by the American Heart Association on September 30, 2008. Depression is about three times more common in heart patients than the general population, according to recommendations published in the journal Circulation. Fewer than fifty percent of heart doctors say they treat depression in their patients, and not all those diagnosed with depression receive treatment.
Depressed patients often find it more difficult to take medications, engage in healthy diet or exercise, or take part in rehabilitation programs, thus, it is likely they fare worse than non-depressed heart patients in attaining as satisfactory a recovery or quality of life.
Heart patients can be screened by asking two standard questions: In the past two weeks, have you had little interest or pleasure in doing things? Have you felt down, depressed or hopeless? If the patient answers yes to one or both, further evaluation can determine whether and how severely the patient is depressed. Depressed patients can benefit from treatment with a professional qualified in treating depression; other treatment options include lifestyle changes and possibly antidepressants.