The Head and Heart Connection

Feb 26, 2020

Mosaic’s Behavioral Health Director, Kimberly Swanson, PhD, clears up misconceptions about the head and heart connection (mental health and heart health) for American Heart Month.

For years, medical providers thought that behaviors were the connection between the head and heart. For example, a person experiencing depression might seek relief from smoking, drinking alcohol or eating high fat foods. This thinking has changed with research showing that there is a physiological connection between heart health and mental health. We now know that the same biological and chemical factors that trigger mental health issues also influence heart disease.

Mental Health and Heart Health
Research shows that common mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or stress firmly link to heart disease. Stress and depression can also impact blood pressure and heart rate.

Heart Health and Mental Health
Having heart disease or stroke can cause depression and anxiety due to the biological and chemical factors mentioned above. Some patients may also think that they “should be depressed” after having a heart attack or stroke. However, minimizing sadness or, even worse, dismissing it can worsen both heart health and mental health.

What Should You Do?
Begin by openly discussing how you are feeling both physically and mentally with your Mosaic health care provider. Your Mosaic health care provider can help connect you to our Behavioral Health Consultants who are experts at both improving your mental health and heart health.

Kimberly Swanson, PhD, is a Licensed Psychologist and Director of Behavioral Health for Mosaic.

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