A cardiologist explains how being miserable at work can damage your physical health

Has life got you feeling overwhelmed?

Stressing out or catching the blues for time to time is just a part of being human, but feeling constantly anxious, burned out, or depressed can actually damage your heart health in the long term.

Business Insider recently spoke about matters of the heart with Dr. Reena Pande, a cardiologist and Thrive Global contributor with undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard.

Today, Pande has scaled back her clinical work to serve as the chief medical officer at startup AbleTo Inc, which focuses on helping companies improve employee wellness.

“It’s so obvious to me and to most of us cardiologists the degree to which emotional well-being had an impact on the heart and overall cardiovascular health,” she says. “That’s what brought me to AbleTo. I’m really good at telling you to do all these things, eat right, exercise, and take your pills and all that, but I’m really not that good at figuring out how to help you do it. A lot of it is we’re not sufficiently addressing all these other pieces of your life.”

She cites a 2010 study to say that conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety make patients less likely to practice self-care, follow physician’s medical recommendations and, in some cases, actually increase mortality rates when combined with underlying heart disease.

“You have to treat the mind the same way that you treat the body,” she says. “It’s as important. Making it clear that it’s necessary to do so I hope will change the conversation.”

So, what are some signs that stress, anxiety, or depression might be affecting you physically? Pande provided Business Insider with a few indicators:

  • A change in your sleep habits.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • A change in your eating habits.
  • Palpitations or chest discomfort.
  • Lowered energy.

If that sounds like you, it’s probably time to prioritise both your mental health and your heart health. Pande recommends talking to your doctor about all aspects of your physical and mental well-being, whether you’ve just been diagnosed with a cardiovascular issue or are just concerned about the impact your stress and anxiety levels have on your overall health.

“It’s ok to not feel ok, and the most important first step is to be aware of how you’re feeling and that it can have an impact your work and your life,” Pande says. “That’s the first step for anyone to get help, is to know that you need help.”

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