Experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest can be one of the most traumatic events a person can go through. In addition to the physical impacts, the emotional toll of surviving cardiac arrest can be immense. You may be grappling with feelings and mood changes that leave you feeling like a different person. Rest assured, what you are experiencing is normal for cardiac arrest survivors.
Common Emotions Post-Cardiac Arrest
Surviving a cardiac arrest can leave you experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s normal to have strong feelings of grief, fear, anxiety, anger, and more as you process this traumatic event. This section explores some common emotional reactions cardiac arrest survivors report to help you understand you are not alone in your feelings.
Shock and Disbelief
You may be in disbelief about what happened in the early days and weeks after cardiac arrest. The experience of nearly dying can be difficult to process emotionally. Shock, denial, and avoidance are common protective reactions as you adjust.
Anxiety, Fear and Depression
As the reality sets in, you may struggle with anxiety about the future and fears of another cardiac event. Depression is also common, with sadness, hopelessness or lack of motivation. Be patient with yourself – these feelings typically lessen with time.
Anger and Irritability
Frustration is understandable, given the life changes thrust upon you. Anger towards healthcare providers, loved ones or even yourself is common. Finding healthy outlets to process these feelings can help avoid destroying relationships.
Grief and Loss
Many describe grieving the person they were before cardiac arrest. You may mourn the lost independence, abilities or the carefree life you had. Talking through these feelings can bring acceptance.
Survivors also report sudden bursts of crying, yelling or laughing inappropriately. Brain changes from oxygen deprivation can impact emotional control. Don’t judge yourself too harshly.
Coping with Emotional Changes
- Give yourself time and grace to adjust
- Communicate openly with loved ones
- Consider joining a support group to connect with others who understand
- Try mind-body practices like mindfulness, meditation, yoga or Tai Chi
- Prioritise self-care and do things that bring you joy
- Seek counselling if emotions persist at a severe level
The emotional impact of surviving cardiac arrest can be significant. Know that what you are feeling is a normal reaction. With time, care and support, your moods should stabilise. You have overcome the ultimate challenge – take pride in your resilience.
We want to hear from you!
Please share your thoughts on this article and let us know your emotional journey post-SCA and how you coped. Your insights and experiences will provide valuable perspectives for other survivors. So, don’t be shy – comment below and join the conversation. By sharing your story, you can inspire and help fellow survivors recover.
After our first meet-up in February 2015, I realised I was not alone. It was the first time since my cardiac arrest the previous year that I had spoken face-to-face with someone who had experienced what I had. This was also true for my wife, who also happened to be my lifesaver. From that meet-up, the idea of SCA UK was born. Since then, we have achieved a considerable amount, primarily providing information, resources and support to others in a similar situation but also raising the profile of survivorship and the need for better post-discharge care. We are starting to get traction in this, and with the formation of the charity, I genuinely believe we have a bright future ahead and will make a significant difference in the lives of many who join our ranks.