The Hidden Link Between High Blood Pressure, Stress and Depression

The Effects of Daily Stress on Blood Pressure

alcohol and blood pressureThere are many things that can drive blood pressure up, an argument, traffic jam, or unexpected bills. Your heart starts to pound and your face flushes. These are common causes for short-lived hikes in blood pressure. When they only happen occasionally, they are not life-threatening. But if you respond to stress this way on a daily basis, you may be headed for long-term hypertension.

The Link Between Anxiety, Depression and Hypertension

Studies[1] document that anxiety and depression can increase the risk for developing hypertension. And those diagnosed with hypertension are more likely to have a history of panic and anxiety attacks. This led researchers to the conclusion that hypertension and depression are related. A study by New York Presbyterian Hospital found that psychological trauma can result in continual episodes of surging blood pressure with accompanying symptoms of nausea, chest pain and shortness of breath, proving the connection between emotional responses and the cardiovascular system.

drinking with high blood pressurePeople affected by depression and anxiety often exhibit behaviors such as drinking, smoking and over-eating, all of which can lead to hypertension and heart disease. However, the danger of depression and anxiety go further than that, as they create a feeling of constant alert in the body, which puts a strain on the cardiovascular system and other organs. This is known as the “fight or flight” response, which drives up blood pressure and pumps adrenaline into the body in preparation for fighting or running.

Depression Medication May Affect Blood Pressure

heart health and depressionWhile taking hypertension medication helps prevent severe high blood pressure surges, the chemical reactions caused by medications used to treat depression can actually raise blood pressure.  This leaves the person with depression and high blood pressure in a quandary, since both conditions need to be controlled. If you suffer from depression and high blood pressure, it is best to consult your physician so that the medications you take can be evaluated for their effects on both conditions.

Depression and Anxiety Control is Essential For Heart Health

It is important to treat depression, since it can increase the risk of heart disease in otherwise healthy people. A study at Duke University Medical Center found that stress management programs effectively reduced chances that heart patients would suffer a heart attack by 74 percent, an astounding statistic.  Getting the body out of the alert mode so that the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are all at normal levels lets the body function as it should.  Lowering the levels of anxiety and depression reduce the strain from the “fight or flight” response that is induced when the body is on alert.

Successfully Treating Anxiety and Depression That Affect Blood Pressure

Hypertension and depression are both conditions that can be treated. With medication, adjustment to lifestyle and diet, and moderation of stress they can both be controlled. There are many ways to moderate the effects of stress and anxiety, including therapies and herbal supplements that help reduce stress levels. Exercise can help, as well as being aware of stress levels so that you know when to take a time out to relax. Treating depression with therapy or medication when necessary is essential to your health. The great news is that once you know that anxiety and depression may be affecting your blood pressure, you have the key to enjoying better long-term health!