What does the research say?
Brand new research has discovered a relationship between anxiety, low mood and coronary slow flow, which refers to the restriction of blood flow to the heart.1 The study at hand observed the differences in 50 patients who had restricted blood flow to the heart compared with 50 people who had normal coronary function.
Researchers found that rates of low mood and anxiety were higher in the group of patients who had cardiovascular issues, in comparison to the healthy control group.
Results also demonstrated a relationship between the severity of cardiovascular issues and the severity of both anxiety and low mood. So, it seems that those who are more severely affected by cardiovascular health problems could also suffer more at the hands of anxiety and low mood disorders.
Who is at risk?
Let’s go into a bit more detail about who seems to be most at risk here.
This study found that men were more at risk than women of mental health and cardiovascular issues occurring hand in hand. This could be because men are less likely to visit a doctor or pharmacist to seek help when they become ill (women from the age of 20-40 visit their GP twice as often as men in the same age category).2
At the same time, men are 50% more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease than women,3 while 35% of men waited more than 2 years to discuss their mental health issues, or have never told their friends and family about these problems.4
From this we can see that there are a few reasons why men might be seen as a high-risk group in this study as they are more prone to suffering from cardiovascular health problems and may be less likely to report these problems (as well as mental health concerns) to their doctor. Then, in turn, as suggested by the study, they could also be more at risk of mental health issues as a result.
What can help?
- Talking to your friends and family. If you are struggling with mental health issues, including anxiety and low mood, you may find that talking to people close to you can help to lift a weight from your shoulders.
- Seeking professional help. Talking to a GP of psychiatrist could be of help if you don’t feel comfortable opening up to your close friends or family.
- Deep breathing and mindfulness techniques can help to calm anxious thoughts and enable you to relax. There are a range of Apps you can find for your phone or tablet to help you.
Coping with anxiety and low mood
Anxiety and low mood can have a large impact on your day-to-day life. As well as talking to your friends, family or doctor, you might want to try some home remedies. Herbal remedies can be used to help manage mild stress, anxiety and low mood:
- Stress Relief Daytime contains a blend of herbs which can help to soothe mild stress and anxiety.
- Hyperiforce, or St John's Wort, is a herbal remedy which can be used to relieve mild anxiety and low mood. This is not suitable if you are currently on medication. Check with your GP before taking Hyperiforce.
Nutrient deficiencies could also be a possible contributor to anxiety and low mood, so topping up on these nutrients could help to improve your symptoms:
- Low magnesium can have a negative impact on our mood, with a recent study highlighting that participants who had higher levels of magnesium in their blood had more favourable mood scores. You can read more here.
- Vitamin D deficiency has also been connected to low mood, as it can affect our levels of serotonin, a chemical which helps to regulate our mood and anxiety levels. One study gave a supplement to people who were vitamin D deficient and saw an improvement in their depressive symptoms.5
Are there other risk factors?
So, we know that men may be more at risk of suffering from these issues and also seem to report their issues less often. But what other risk factors are at play here?
The new research also found that high triglycerides were an indicator of cardiovascular issues which were linked to anxiety and low mood. Triglycerides are a type of fat, and a build-up of triglycerides can occur as a result of over-eating and lack of activity.
High triglyceride levels could also increase the risk of the arterial walls hardening, and raise the likelihood of you suffering from heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Now, as the study suggests, looking after your heart could also be an important step in the overall management of mental health issues, so this may be more important than ever, especially if you suspect you could be at risk.
What can help?
Paying close attention to your diet can help to cut down on triglycerides and potentially improve your heart health:
- Opt for healthy fats, like omega-3 from oily fish, over unhealthy, saturated fats from foods like butter, ice cream and red meat.
- Cut back on (or simply avoid!) alcohol as this can raise cholesterol which, combined with high triglycerides, can also increase risk of heart disease.
- Eat more complex carbohydrates (brown bread and quinoa) and eat fewer simple carbohydrates (white breads and foods high in refined sugar).
Keeping active and exercising on a regular basis can also help to keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check. Simple, low-impact exercises include: