When you are having an anxiety attack, your palms get sweaty, your heartbeat rises, your blood pressure goes up and you may even experience pain in your chest. Once the anxiety-causing situation passes, your heart rate slows down, blood pressure drops and chest pains disappear. The symptoms of anxiety disorder are often short-lived and harmless. But one big concern that most people have about anxiety is its link to high blood pressure or hypertension. Can anxiety cause high blood pressure? Let us examine the effects of anxiety on high blood pressure.
Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure can arise due to a number of reasons – age, weight, family history, food habits, and stress and anxiety. Usually, your blood pressure is not constant throughout the day. It may go up or down depending on what activities you are engaged in at that point of time, what you have eaten, how you are feeling and so on. When you get anxious, your heart rate increases, constricting your blood vessels and causing more pressure to be exerted on the circulatory system to ensure a steady flow of blood. This strain causes high blood pressure. If you are suffering from anxiety constantly you will most likely have high blood pressure constantly, but anxiety is usually episodical, so when it goes away, so does the high blood pressure.
Dr. Melinda Stanley, professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine states that there is no evidence that high anxiety and stress cause long-term high blood pressure but they can definitely cause a short-term increase. However, she also states that if you constantly suffer from anxiety and increased blood pressure, it can cause physical damage to the body that is just as harmful as chronic high blood pressure.
Individuals who face an anxiety attack often start worrying about their blood pressure, which in turn creates more anxiety and increase in blood pressure. Reversely, worrying about high blood pressure may be the reason for anxiety. Therefore it is important to not let your blood pressure bother you. High blood pressure is treatable with simple lifestyle changes and medication, so you must never let it be the cause of anxiety and stress.
Also, people with anxiety disorder often resort to unhealthy practices to overcome it such as drinking, smoking, abusing drugs, or overeating, all of which adds to the risk of getting high blood pressure. Therefore, even if anxiety is not the root cause of high blood pressure, it can indirectly contribute to it.
Another indirect contributor of high blood pressure is the medications used to treat anxiety. Medications such as venlafaxine can create side effects including increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Certain medications when taken in combination with other foods can also cause the risk of high blood pressure. Since medications have different side effects for different people, it is always best to consult with the doctor beforehand about possible side effects and if you need to avoid certain foods when taking your anxiety pills.
High blood pressure is a serious medical condition. If left untreated, it can lead to stroke, renal failure, retinal problems and other health issues. Therefore, it is essential that even small spikes in high blood pressure be avoided. This can be done by analyzing the signs of stress and anxiety and finding ways of dealing with them effectively. You can take up deep breathing, yoga, visualization exercises or root chakra meditation to keep stress and anxiety under control. You can also adopt simple lifestyle changes such as saying “No” to too much work, practicing gratitude and taking care of yourself.
Even if anxiety is not directly responsible for long term high blood pressure, it can indirectly lead to it and various other health problems. Therefore it is important to work towards living a stress free life that will not only keep your blood pressure at healthy levels but also contribute to your overall health and well being.
So what do you think? Do you thing anxiety can cause high blood pressure? Do you have any advices?