Heart Surgery Can Increase Depression Risk

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 11:24am

No one knows what led Robin Williams to kill himself. It wasn’t just one thing, but likely a fatal stew of lingering alcohol and drug addiction, depression, being middle-aged and male, and the prospect of facing Parkinson’s disease.

Rarely mentioned, though, is the open-heart surgery he’d undergone five years ago. But according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, research suggests up to 40 per cent of Canadians may suffer from depression after heart surgery – a one-two calamity with potentially deadly consequences.

Three years ago I was one of those people.

Even when the surgery to replace my aortic valve was a success and my lingering irregular heartbeat had been stabilized – in other words, even after I was “well” – I fell into a deep depression. It took me more than a year to crawl back out, plenty of time to wonder how I could be so much better in my body and so much worse in my mind.

What’s the connection between heart surgery and depression?

To read more of this article from the Toronto Globe and Mail, go to



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