Anxiety and High Blood Pressure
Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?
Some people have been told, or have the concern, that worrying or anxiety causes high blood pressure. Many people believe there is a link between anxiety and blood pressure due to how they feel during acute anxiety. A rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing and other anxiety symptoms can convince people they have high blood pressure. However, research indicates that anxiety itself does not cause high blood pressure outside of acute anxiety episodes.
Anxiety Attacks and High Blood Pressure
Long-term high blood pressure is known as hypertension. People with hypertension have an elevated blood pressure at all times. Anxiety, though, only causes high blood pressure spikes during acute attacks of anxiety.
While this doesn't constitute hypertension, anxiety-induced blood pressure increases can damage blood vessels, heart and kidneys if the blood pressure spikes are frequent enough. If anxiety is causing blood pressure spikes daily, damage is a concern. This is one of the reasons it's important to seek professional help to keep anxiety symptoms under control.1
It's also important to remember that frequent anxiety episodes are more likely to cause other unhealthy lifestyle habits such as:
- Drinking alcohol
These unhealthy lifestyle habits can contribute to hypertension.
High Blood Pressure from Anxiety Medication
Unfortunately, some of the medication people with anxiety take, such as antidepressants, can cause high blood pressure. High blood pressure from anxiety medication is associated with:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other drugs that alter serotonin
- Tricyclic antidepressants
Tricyclic antidepressants have been shown to cause more severe hypertension and cause hypertension more frequently than SSRIs and other serotonin modifying medications.2