Women and depression

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: February 22nd, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Depression is common among those suffering from heart disease. The problem is especially acute in female patients. But women, take heart. A new, single-sex rehabilitation program developed specifically for you is providing inspiration for health-care providers around the country.

The program was developed at the University of South Florida in Tampa. It offers a more individualized approach to cardiac rehabilitation that eases patients into making healthy lifestyle changes. Why? U-S-F doctors involved with the method believe that patients get overwhelmed if confronted with a laundry list of major behavior changes, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly and eating healthier.

The U-S-F program instead acknowledges the difficulty associated with change and provides patients with motivation to take the heart smart steps they need to follow. The strategy appears to be working, according to the school’s research. Doctors there studied two-hundred and twenty-five patients, who averaged sixty-three years old. One group attended a traditional twelve-week cardiac rehab program, while the others did a twelve-week women-only program that emphasized lifestyle education and exercise.

The women’s symptoms of depression were measured immediately after they completed the program and then again six months later. Those in the traditional program showed a drop in depression scores from sixteen-point-five to fourteen-point-three. However, the patients in the women-only program plummeted from seventeen-point-three to eleven. Six months later, those in the traditional program scored fifteen-point-two, compared with thirteen in the women-only program.

The findings are important because depression can cause patients to abandon or neglect their care. So women unite… it could lead to a healthier future.