Serious health events and chronic illness

A sudden or unexpected health event – such as a heart attack, stroke, diagnosis of cancer, or other serious illness or injury – can change your life in many ways. Feelings of shock, anger, grief, loss and sadness are common. These feelings usually pass with time, however, if they cause ongoing stress, you may be at greater risk of developing depression and anxiety.

Similarly, if you live with a chronic illness (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or asthma), you are also at greater risk of developing depression and anxiety. Less common chronic physical illnesses that can also be associated with depression include chronic pain, Parkinson's Disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to know whether you are feeling down because of your physical health, or if you do actually have symptoms of depression or anxiety. Sometimes it can be both. If you're unsure if what you're feeling is a normal reaction to what is happening in your life, talk to your doctor, another health professional or a member of your health care team. With open discussion, they can help you to work out what's going on and whether you could benefit from additional advice or treatment.