Heart Beat: Treating depression after a heart attack
Treating depression after a heart attack
Surviving a heart attack is cause for celebration. It's also a trigger for depression. Up to half of heart attack survivors get the blues, and many go on to develop full-blown clinical depression.
Early experiences with antidepressants weren't that promising. Older tricyclic drugs such as clomipramine and nortriptyline sometimes threw off heart rhythms and further endangered the heart. This made doctors leery about recommending antidepressants, even when selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), and others came along.
However, a small study published in 2002, dubbed SADHART, suggested that sertraline could safely treat depression after a heart attack and might be good for the heart to boot. And an analysis of a larger trial, called ENRICHD, lends support to the notion that treating post-heart-attack depression with an SSRI may also reduce the chances of having, or dying from, a heart attack.