Although anxiety is not a leading cause of high blood pressure, there is a strong link between the two. Discover the connection between your symptoms in this article.
- Anxiety attacks temporarily raise blood pressure; however, this seldom develops into a chronic condition.
- Regular spikes in blood pressure or anxiety-related coping mechanisms contribute significantly to long-term hypertension due to vascular damage.
- Specific anxiety medication also raises blood pressure, but lifestyle management can significantly help reduce risks.
Many people wonder, “can anxiety cause high blood pressure?” After all, your heart rate and blood pressure increase temporarily when you feel upset, stressed, or anxious.
Although there is a connection between hypertension and anxiety, the belief that one can lead to the other is not as simple to explain. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize the complex interaction between the two.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports approximately 40 million adults in the USA alone to suffer from anxiety disorders. A rise in blood pressure is just one of several physiological symptoms that anxiety can have on your body.
In this article, we’ll look at the relationship between anxiety and high blood pressure, possible treatment options, and more.
So, Does Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?
Chronic hypertension is a significant health risk that can damage various body parts. However, while anxiety and panic attacks can temporarily increase blood pressure, there is insufficient evidence that anxiety disorders cause long-term hypertension.
The problem is there are no obvious physical signs of high blood pressure. Instead, the symptoms connected with hypertension are also associated with rapid blood pressure and pulse bursts brought on by anxiety.
These might include:
- Racing heartbeat
When anxiety levels are at their peak, all of these symptoms become more noticeable. These are also indicators of hyperventilation, which frequently occurs with anxiety and panic episodes.
Therefore, while your hypertension may be causing some of these symptoms, it is doubtful, and high blood pressure merely follows anxiety.
Are you in the clear?
Despite the lack of research, it is not to say you are in the clear from further investigation. It is crucial to remember anxiety attacks can cause rapid increases in blood pressure, especially when you haven’t had an episode for a while.
A high blood reading on the blood pressure chart is usually harmless. But it can pose a health risk if left untreated.
When anxiety-induced blood pressure spikes occur frequently, it strains your heart and kidneys, damaging blood vessels.
There are various lifestyle changes and supplements that can help lower blood pressure. Likewise, anxiety’s long-term effects may impact blood pressure in the long run, but it is hard to differentiate them from those caused by genetics or nutrition factors.
Another way anxiety might contribute to hypertension is through poor coping mechanisms. Experts suggest:
“Because patients find it difficult to comply with lifestyle modifications (often because of a decreased understanding of the changes required), adherence to medication regimens may be less of a limiting factor than doctors believe.”
These include lifestyle choices that increase blood pressure, like smoking, vaping, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, eating junk food, lack of exercise, and sleep deprivation. These are all contradictory to the requirements for lowering blood pressure.
Monitoring blood pressure and mental health is essential. Furthermore, remember anxiety is not the root cause of hypertension in all cases.
The effect of anxiety medication on blood pressure
Some anxiety drugs can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels. Examples include:
- SNRIs (Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake inhibitors)
- MAOIs (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
- NDRIs (Norepinephrine-Dopamine Reuptake inhibitors
A meta-analysis revealed that while SSRIs (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) do not affect blood pressure, SNRIs raise it slightly.
Your doctor will regularly check your blood pressure after prescribing medication from the list above for any notable changes. But, many options like selective SSRIs, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines like Xanax are safe.
Remember that you have options like maintaining a healthy diet, deep breathing, simplifying your daily routine, and exercising to reduce anxiety levels.
But, Can Blood Pressure Cause Anxiety?
Any pre-existing, chronic condition like heart disease or high blood pressure contributes to anxiety and vice versa.
According to (NIMH) National Institute of Mental Health, patients with any long-term illness have a higher tendency to have mental health problems like anxiety.
Another study suggests that up to 51% of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension suffer from panic or anxiety episodes. Most of these cases go undiagnosed and untreated.
On the contrary, anxiety is a rare side-effect of most blood pressure drugs. Clonidine and beta blockers are effective blood pressure medications in treating anxiety.
There is not enough proof that anxiety causes hypertension; nonetheless, there is a known link between the two, as anxiety produces short-term rises in blood pressure. Anxiety can also harm overall health due to frequent increases in pressure and heart rate.
If you are concerned about your mental and physical health, your doctor can help determine a safe treatment plan that works for you. You can also refer to some of our tips and tricks to lower blood pressure that also reduces stress effectively.
“Anxiety Disorders – Facts & Statistics.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
Pan, Y. et al. “Association between anxiety and hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment 11 (2015): 1121-1130. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4411016/
“Chronic Illness and Mental Health: Recognizing and Treating Depression.” National Institute of Mental Health (2021) https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health
Bussotti, M. and Sommaruga, M. “Anxiety and depression in patients with pulmonary hypertension: impact and management challenges.” Vascular Health and Risk Management 14 (2018): 349-360. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231438/
Rahman, Abdul, R. A. et al. “Perception of hypertension management by patients and doctors in Asia: potential to improve blood pressure control.” Asia Pacific Family Medicine 14 (2015). https://apfmj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12930-015-0018-3
Zhong, Z. et al. “A meta-analysis of effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors on blood pressure in depression treatment: outcomes from placebo and serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor controlled trials.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment 13 (2017): 2781-2796. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5683798/
“Heart Disease and Mental Health Disorders.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/mentalhealth.htm