Peripheral Arterial Disease and Mental Health
“Where the Mind Goes, The Body Follows”
The link between physical and mental health has long been appreciated by physicians. Ancient Greeks believed that our personalities were formed by the respective proportions of body fluids or “humors” in the body. People with too much were of a choleric temperament, too much blood were sanguine, etc.. Our thoughts influence the way we act and feel, and similarly, our physical health affects our mood and psychological well-being. The cycle of peripheral arterial disease and depression is a great example of this phenomena. When our arteries have too much plaque to deliver blood to our legs, we develop pain with walking called “claudication”. This can severely limit a person’s independence and physical ability. Affected patients are no longer able to do the things they love. They fear having to walk long distances in parking lots, shopping malls, or grocery stores. As a result, they become progressively more homebound. The decreased physical activity results in weight gain, low self-esteem, and further deconditioning. Without treatment, this can progress to full on depression. Depression, in turn, is strongly linked to an increased risk of substance abuse (nicotine relapse) and medication noncompliance which can worsen arterial blockages causing claudication. The cycle is illustrated below:
If you or a loved one are affected by Peripheral Arterial Disease, contact a vascular surgeon BEFORE this vicious cycle can begin. Protect your Mind and Body!
- DiMatteo MR, Lepper HS, Croghan TW. Depression is a risk factor for noncompliance with medical treatment: meta-analysis of the effects of anxiety and depression on patient adherence. Arch Intern Med. 2000 Jul 24;160(14):2101-7. doi: 10.1001/archinte.160.14.2101. PMID: 10904452.
- Brostow DP, Petrik ML, Starosta AJ, Waldo SW. Depression in patients with peripheral arterial disease: A systematic review. Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2017 Mar;16(3):181-193. doi: 10.1177/1474515116687222. Epub 2017 Jan 4. PMID: 28051339.