Congenital heart disease can impact our mental health. Click here to learn about these problems, and how chronic illness therapy in Silicon Valley can help.
Congenital heart disease (CHD) affects 1% of births in the United States. Kids with CHD may face additional struggles in daily life. Adults with CHD may find it more difficult to maintain a job, stay physically active, and may limit travel due to worries about being far from their doctors. All of these factors can affect your emotional well-being, however individuals with CHD can also thrive despite their condition with proper care and identifying the appropriate supports and services.
Identifying a mental health condition isn't always easy and it may be feel overwhelming, especially if you're already focused on your physical health. However, it's important that you identify a professional to discuss your mental health symptoms and get anxiety therapy in Silicon Valley if you feel you need it. Here's more information about CHD, your mental health, and when it may be time to seek professional help.
Emotional Impact of Congenital Heart Disease
It's normal to be emotionally affected by your heart condition since it can impact your daily life and well-being. Even though others struggle with CHD, you may not have many friends or know others who suffer from similar illnesses. It can be difficult to talk about your struggles and you may also fear how others will perceive you and your heart condition. It is common for individuals with CHD to fear being a burden to their loved ones or being viewed differently due to their condition. However people with CHD often display a resilience and fortitude as a result of their health struggles.
It can still be beneficial to talk about your concerns and process your experience. Studies show that children with CHD struggle with anxiety and depression more than their peers, and may even be more hyperactive. Children with CHD may also struggle to focus, especially in school.
This is where depression or anxiety therapy in the Bay Area can come in. If your child has CHD, it is important that the parents get their children the help they need. The same advice also applies to adults with CHD.
Mental Health Symptoms and Conditions
How do you know if you or your child has a mental health condition stemming from CHD? Everyone experiences mental health problems in different ways, so it can be difficult to identify the signs and symptoms. There are symptoms that many can experience, regardless of the type of mental health condition. These symptoms may include:
Showing physical displays of emotion, such as crying
Unable to cope with your emotions
It's also worth it to know the signs and symptoms of specific conditions.
Those with CHD may experience a specific type of anxiety, called health anxiety. Health anxiety is when you have intense fears over your health. You may pay attention to minor health symptoms and worry that they're serious especially since you've been coping with a serious health condition since birth.
However, health anxiety isn't the only type of anxiety disorder that those with CHD may face. That's why it's helpful to know the signs of an anxiety problem:
Sense of impending danger
Increased heart rate
Up to 30% of those with CHD also struggle with depression. While we're not sure of the link between CHD and depression, the main theory is that medical interventions starting at a young age may have affected the development of the brain and mind — especially if the individual was separated from their parents for long durations during infancy.
Some changes during childhood can decrease the chances of a patient getting depression as an adult. This includes enrolling them in school with other peers and healthcare professionals educating positive mental health practices at a young age.
If you still suspect you or your child may be suffering from depression as a result of CHD, these are the symptoms you may notice:
Loss of interest in activities and interests you once loved
Changes in appetite
Lack of sleep
Lower energy levels
Thoughts of suicide
Children with CHD are more likely to develop ADHD than their peers. Some common symptoms of ADHD include:
Unable to pay attention, specifically at school or work
Struggle to stay motivated
Unable to complete tasks
Gets bored easily
Difficulty staying organized
Can't manage time
Keep in mind, while the two illnesses are often used together, you can have inattention and not hyperactivity and vice versa. It's best to discuss this with an therapist in the Bay Area.
It's unclear why those with CHD are more likely to develop ADHD. ADHD is thought to be hereditary.
However, CHD comes with some physical effects that may affect the brain. These include hypoxemia (lack of oxygen to the brain) and ischemia (reduced blood flow). If a child had cardiac surgery at a young age, this can also affect the way the brain develops.
Coming to Terms With CHD and Its Mental Health Effects
You may find it more challenging to live a "normal" life with CHD and it can take time to process how CHD affects your emotional well-being and quality of life. For many, your health may impact your decisions however many people with CHD are resilient and can achieve their goals especially with the support of their family and medical team.
It is important to pursue your life goals while living with CHD and share your experiences with others. Informing your school, boss, friends, and coaches of your heart condition can help you create a network of people you can turn to for mental health support.
How to Find Support
It can be challenging living with the mental health effects of CHD. However, you can still find support with a professional to help you process your emotions and experience. A chronic illness therapist in the Bay Area can offer emotional support while having the expertise and personal experience to help you live a life that is aligned with your core values. It is important to also discuss your mental health concerns with your cardiologist so they can be aware of your struggles.
What if your mental health and physical illness are interfering with daily life? It is important to be an advocate for yourself or your child with CHD in order to receive the support and services that are needed. If you or your child are still in school, oriented the staff members on CHD so they can find ways to support you or your child. If you're an adult and are struggling in the workplace, check and see what their policies are on providing reasonable accommodations.
Do You Need Chronic Illness Therapy in Silicon Valley?
If you're struggling to live with the mental effects of CHD, seeking chronic illness therapy in Silicon Valley is the first step. We offer counseling services to those in the Bay Area, California, Florida, Puerto Rico.
Click here to learn more about our services. Kristin is also a provider through the Ollie Hinkle Heart Foundation which provides free mental health treatment for heart warriors. Contact Kristin to learn more about OHHF and mental wellness care.
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