Atrial fibrillation and managing stress
Tackle stress, anxiety and depression to benefit your heart.
Stress can contribute to heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) such as atrial fibrillation. Some studies suggest that stress and mental health issues may cause your atrial fibrillation symptoms to worsen. High levels of stress may also be linked to other health problems. Coping with your stress is important for your health.
Manage your stress
Finding ways to manage your stress may help improve your health and manage your condition.
Some stress management ideas include:
- Relaxation techniques
- Support from family and friends
- Regular physical activity
- A healthy diet
- A positive attitude
If these stress management techniques aren’t helping, talk to your doctor.
Depression and anxiety
There is a complex relationship between atrial fibrillation and anxiety and depression.
- Some research shows that people with atrial fibrillation may be more affected by depression and anxiety.
- Having depression or anxiety may negatively affect your quality of life and the severity of your atrial fibrillation symptoms.
- At present, researchers don’t know whether people with anxiety or depression are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation or whether having atrial fibrillation increases the risk of anxiety and depression.
More research is needed to fully understand the complex relationship between atrial fibrillation and these mental health conditions.
If you have symptoms of depression or anxiety — such as persistent feelings of sadness or worry, difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest in most activities — talk with your doctor. He or she may recommend you see a specialist trained in mental health conditions (psychologist or psychiatrist) for diagnosis and treatment.
March 18, 2021
- Atrial fibrillation. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation. Accessed Feb. 2, 2021.
- Bamgbade BA, et al. Psychosocial and cognitive multimorbidity and health-related quality of life and symptom burden in older adults with atrial fibrillation: The systematic assessment of geriatric elements in atrial fibrillation (SAGE-AF) cohort study. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. 2020;doi:10.1016/j.archger.2020.104117.
- Heart-healthy living. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-healthy-living. Accessed March 16, 2021.
- Fu Y, et al. Relationship between psychological factors and atrial fibrillation: A meta-analysis and systematic review. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020; doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000019615.
- Relaxation techniques for health. NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/relaxation-techniques-for-health. Accessed Feb. 2, 2021.
- Managing stress. NAMI. https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Individuals-with-Mental-Illness/Taking-Care-of-Your-Body/Managing-Stress. Accessed Feb. 2, 2021.
- Slepecky M, et al. Which psychological, psychophysiological, and anthropometric factors are connected with life events, depression, and quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2017; doi:10.2147/NDT.S141811.