Depression: Hi I have just been diagnosed... - AF Association

AF Association
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I have just been diagnosed with AF after suffering frequent episodes over the last 2 months. I was born with a heart condition which was operated on in 1973.

The consultant I saw felt the previous surgery was the likely cause of the AF.

I have always suffered with anxiety but since this I have become severely depressed. My current quality of life is very low and am not sleeping, eating etc.

My GP and cardiologist have both said it is very unwise to take antidepressants as they can add to the arrhythmia so I feel in a never ending spiral.

Has anyone else had this problem?

Thank you


12 Replies

Hi Max, you are feeling what so many of us feel on here. You naturally worry about the condition and the symptoms of the condition can really get you down. Keep positive and work with the medical professions in finding a way to stop the AF or find the drugs that control it without side effects. The other thing you need to do is get support with your anxiety. If you live in Britain you can get help through the NHS with mindfulness and CBT etc. The posts on here show that people are successful on here but unfortunately it isn't instant and takes time and some determination. Keep going, keep positive, keep talking to people and keep updating our forum. Good luck!

Many thanks for you swift and helpful reply. It helps knowing I'm not alone.

Hello Max and welcome. You'd rather not be joining us, of course, but we are a very supportive group and share a wealth of experience and knowledge.

So sorry your diagnosis has triggered depression. Apart from the responses you'll doubtless get, I note there are several discussions in 'Related posts' and you might find some helpful words there too.

It can be very hard when AF is first diagnosed but it's not all bad. AF encourages us to lead very healthy lives and to pay attention to diet and exercise. Much can be done to improve quality of life and I think a lot of us are now substantially better off and in all sorts of different ways than we were when we first discovered we had AF. That spiral you mention can go up as well as down. The anxiety can diminish too and what was scary can become merely tedious. Knowledge is power and we're happy to share all we know about AF with you.

Hi Max - I would echo the above posts. AF does induce anxiety, it is something wrong with our hearts after all. Learning more about AF can help you understand and the best place to start is the AFA website, download the leaflets.

Many, many people live fulfilling, active lives with AF but it does take some getting used to and getting help with the anxiety is the first step,

Antidepressants are not the answer and have the strong possibility of increasing anxiety. Anxiety coping strategies are excellent and varied - distraction is a good place to start along with simple breathing exercises.

Sleep and a good diet are also massively important to sort out as poor sleep and diet will only aggravate the AF so it is essential to start to take control yourself and make that decision to help yourself - you will find loads of support and help here so don't hesitate to ask any questions.

Reading some of the inspiring threads on this forum can give you some ideas, as you say, knowing you are NOT alone in this and that others have been where you are now and come through AND not only survived but thrived.

Keep posting and tell us a bit more about how it affects you? How has your life changed since AF struck? What sort of treatment plan have you been offered? Is there a support group in your locality?

Best wishes CD

Hi Max,

I'm sure you will find all the comments helpful, one of the great benefits of the forum! When I was diagnosed 2.5 years ago, I was like you....full of gloom 'n doom! I had two turning points, the first when my GP told me to stop worrying, my heart wasn't going to stop beating (shame this wasn't mentioned at diagnosis!). The second, and most encouraging was when I saw a cardiologist who had a very good knowledge and understanding of AF. Not only did he encourage me to join a local support group, he arranged for me to see an EP once there was a clearer understanding of "my" AF.

Before this, I was not sleeping, not eating and extremely anxious, but gradually, I settled and things did improve, but I did manage to keep off some of the weight! Also, never underestimate the value of this forum - it is a source of great help and support.

Best wishes,


Hi Max. First of all, I am sending you a big hug. Secondly, few of us are equipped to offer medical advice about physical or mental health problems on this forum but we can share our own experiences which is great about this forum. I work as a psychiatric nurse and recently attended a talk about a relatively new anti depressant drug called Brintelex. It is different from other anti depressants in that it has no effect on the QTc interval (which is why GPs are reluctant to prescribe anti depressants to people who have known electrical problems with their hearts). Many GPs don't know much about Bintelex as drug companies have contracts more for hospitals etc. It is also known as Vortioxetine I think. The other thing is, there is a therapy called Acceptance and Commitment therapy which is very good for people who live with longterm health conditions...and it is about learning to live and be in your life...not just exist and worry about your fate. Max, I understand how you feel...we have to accept it and learn a new life which can still be wonderful. I am not advocating either drugs for mood and anxiety or no drugs....everyone has individual needs. just find what is right for you and commit to making your life as fulfilled as possible. None of us know what is round the corner. Wishing you blessings and a ticker and thoughts that are well behaved:) xxxx

in reply to Vony

Thank you so much for the hug and the warm and useful response. I am going to see the cardiologist on Tuesday and he is proposing to start me on low levels of beta blockers but I have a whole list of questions to ask him about what the future holds for me and my ticker. X

It is lovely to talk to you and I have been where you are...and sometimes still do feel that way. Make the most of your time with the cardio and remember your time with him/her is important. Even ask about the effect of all this on your emotional state...I have discussed it with my EP a few times and he is very holistic and used to hearing about the emotional impact...your cardio may be able to give some advice about that too (but let's not get too over excited about that prospect lol) keep us posted xxxx

Hi Max, just a few points to add in case something helps. See a Naturopath to discuss Magnesium/CoQ10/other supplements, that improved my anxiety/possible depression and sleep; with Mg medics do the wrong test you need the Red Cell test. Also get some other medical tests done to reassure you there are no other related issues heart MRI, Carotid ultrasound.

Then persevere with a number of common anxiety treatments, until you find one or more that works. I did quite a few 1) remove all moveable stress sources in your life 2) Mindfulness 3) New hobby(s) you have always promised yourself but never done 4) Reconnect with Nature e.g. visit a care farm once a week 5) If you have a spiritual faith strengthen it.

Nothing works in a week but keep going with a diary and there is a very good chance you will feel a lot better in 6 months. I did. Good luck.

Many thanks. In less than 12 hours this group has been so supportive and helpful. I am very grateful.

Hi Poole-mazzy, I can only agree with all the thoughts / comments already sent out to you and to wish you well on your journey with AF.I found that mindfulness technique's, breathing exercises and positive thinking has helped me as I do not wish to take more medication. You will improve!! give yourself time,big hugs.


Hi max ,

im an AF sufferer as well and do feel for you , im at my wits end having regular bouts of AF , its easy for anyone to give advise but my advise would be to take up a hobby be more active try to occupy yourself and your mind , that's what im trying doing , its certainly not a cure but it does help , im on propranolol for anxiety and flecamide for AF so I am there with you ,

P/S loved your never ending spiral comment made me chuckle cause that's exactly what it feel like,

keep ya chin up

kind regards


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