Managing Anxiety About Heart Rhythm Disorders

If you have recently been diagnosed with a heart rhythm disorder, you may be feeling some anxiety or fear regarding the condition. These are understandable feelings that many people experience in the weeks or months following any medical diagnosis. 

These tips can help you with navigating anxiety about heart rhythm disorders

Communicate with your medical team

We often fear the new and unknown. Gaining knowledge about the specifics of your condition and treatment can help relieve some concerns. Your doctors are best equipped to answer many of your questions and can help educate you about your condition. Keep track of your questions or concerns and bring them up at your next appointment, or call the office to have any more urgent questions relayed to the doctor.

Seek support from peers

Talking to others with similar questions and fears helps you feel less alone. Oklahoma Heart Hospital offers a group called The Arrhythmics for individuals with implantable cardiac devices. If you prefer to communicate online, there are many ways to connect virtually to others who have your condition or who care for someone who does. If you need help finding a support group, reach out to your care team for ideas.

Focus on what you can control

When medical problems arise, it’s easy to feel out of control. Unknowns come with the territory, and some risk factors are unavoidable. But much of your treatment and prognosis depends on you. Focus on the factors you can control or influence. Take your medication as directed. Get adequate sleep. Set aside time for deep breathing, meditation, and other mindfulness practices to reduce your stress. 

Set realistic expectations

An arrhythmia diagnosis is not the end of an active lifestyle. Many patients maintain their normal activities; however, it can take some time to adjust to new realities depending on the severity of your condition. Whether you need to make changes to some of your activities or need to build new habits, give yourself grace. Make your goals and expectations realistic for your new diagnosis. 

Seek mental health support

Having some anxiety and fear around a new diagnosis is normal. But if your anxiety feels overwhelming or is not going away, it’s time for professional help. It can be hard to seek mental health support, but experts trained in addressing these feelings can give you tools to cope with your fears and lead a healthier life. Speaking with your primary care doctor or your heart rhythm specialist is a great first step in finding mental health support and resources. 

Many heart rhythm disorders can be well managed through medication or implantable medical devices, and some can even be cured through ablation. While a new diagnosis can cause some anxiety about heart rhythm disorders, talk with your doctor and your loved ones about your feelings to help work through them.