Atrial fibrillation and managing stress

Tackle stress, anxiety and depression to benefit your heart.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Stress can contribute to heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias) such as atrial fibrillation. Some studies suggest that stress and mental health issues may cause your atrial fibrillation symptoms to worsen. High levels of stress may also be linked to other health problems. Coping with your stress is important for your health.

Manage your stress

Finding ways to manage your stress may help improve your health and manage your condition.

Some stress management ideas include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Support from family and friends
  • Regular physical activity
  • A healthy diet
  • A positive attitude

If these stress management techniques aren't helping, talk to your doctor.

Depression and anxiety

There is a complex relationship between atrial fibrillation and anxiety and depression.

  • Some research shows that people with atrial fibrillation may be more affected by depression and anxiety.
  • Having depression or anxiety may negatively affect your quality of life and the severity of your atrial fibrillation symptoms.
  • At present, researchers don't know whether people with anxiety or depression are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation or whether having atrial fibrillation increases the risk of anxiety and depression.

More research is needed to fully understand the complex relationship between atrial fibrillation and these mental health conditions.

If you have symptoms of depression or anxiety — such as persistent feelings of sadness or worry, difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest in most activities — talk with your doctor. He or she may recommend you see a specialist trained in mental health conditions (psychologist or psychiatrist) for diagnosis and treatment.

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March 18, 2021 See more In-depth