In today’s world, we often live in stressful environments balancing many responsibilities between our work and personal lives. When a stressful lifestyle continues for a long time, chronic anxiety and high blood pressure may arise. Are these two conditions related to each other? If so, how can we address them? Let’s find out!
Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?
When humans experience anxiety, the body’s natural stress response is activated, causing high blood pressure. This response involves the release of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare the body for a “fight-or-flight” situation, triggering a temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure to redirect blood flow to vital organs and muscles. This stress response can become dysregulated in individuals with chronic anxiety or anxiety disorders.
Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?
When you are feeling anxious, you may notice your heart rate increasing. This is a temporary rise in your blood pressure caused by anxiety. Moderated by stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, stress and anxiety can cause short-term elevation in blood pressure.
Doctors generally agree that stress and anxiety do not cause long-term high blood pressure, or also known as “hypertension”. However, if you are experiencing these temporary and dramatic spikes in blood pressure due to stress and anxiety on a regular basis, please consult a medical professional to see if there are any medical treatments or therapies that can alleviate this overwhelming feeling.
Anxiety And Blood Pressure: What’s The Link?
While not directly linked, previous studies have suggested that stress and anxiety can contribute to the development of hypertension.
1. Stress Response From Anxiety Increases Blood Pressure
As mentioned, stress is a natural response when someone experiences anxiety. When the body perceives a threat or experiences stress, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. The sympathetic nervous system triggers the release of stress hormones, particularly adrenaline (epinephrine) and norepinephrine, from the adrenal glands. These hormones stimulate the heart to beat faster and harder, leading to increased cardiac output and a rise in blood pressure.
2. Other Symptoms Of Anxiety
In addition to higher blood pressure, you may be wondering, can anxiety cause nausea? Indeed, it can. The gastrointestinal system, where digestion occurs, contains a large number of nerves that can be affected by hormonal and neuronal signals from the brain. Thus, nausea and other feelings related to digestion are linked to our emotional and mental experiences including anxiety. This link has been suggested in studies on children with chronic unexplained nausea when experiencing increased heart rate and anxiety.
Could Your High Blood Pressure Cause Your Anxiety?
In everyday life, there can be many causes for anxiety. Sometimes, effects of anxiety such as high blood pressure due to a pounding heart can in return cause further anxiety, creating a negative cycle.
High blood pressure can cause anxiety in different ways.
1. Internal Causes Of Anxiety From High Blood Pressure
When someone experiences high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, they may also have symptoms of headaches, shortness of breath, or even nosebleeds. These uncomfortable symptoms can interfere with their daily life, from going to work to taking care of their family. As a result, the inability to go about one’s day or to feel normally may cause stress and anxiety.
2. External Causes Of Anxiety From High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can result from external causes as well. For example, people who are very busy with work, family, and/or financial constraints, may find themselves living unhealthy lifestyles. This may look like not having enough time to cook healthy meals or to get a sufficient amount of exercise.
As a result, unhealthy lifestyles may lead to elevated blood pressure and other negative physiological symptoms, causing discomfort. These conditions may impede the person’s ability to fulfill their existing responsibilities, causing more anxiety.
An existing study on anxiety and depression underscores the importance of physical activity in improving cardiovascular health, including maintaining a healthy blood pressure, and mental health.
What Can You Do If You Have High Blood Pressure Related To Your Anxiety?
Can untreated anxiety cause high blood pressure? When the body is constantly subjected to stress, the person’s level of anxiety leads to high blood pressure. However, the good news is that there are several steps you can take to manage both conditions effectively.
1. Exercise Regularly
There are many stress reduction techniques to control high blood pressure and anxiety. One way to do this is by incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Depending on your interest and lifestyle, there are many options for exercise including jogging, weight lifting, or exercise classes.
Notably, yoga is a form of exercise that emphasizes both physical and mental health due to its meditative component. Studies have shown that yoga is especially helpful for reducing stress and anxiety.
2. Sleep Better
While exercise may require you to make additional free time in your day, you can make small changes to other daily routines to lower your anxiety level. Another stress reduction technique is to practice the best sleeping position for anxiety. This will ensure your muscles are well-relaxed and that you get better rest from your sleep.
3. Improve Your Diet
Another important component of our daily life is what we eat. High blood pressure from unhealthy lifestyles can stem from not eating a balanced meal that properly nourishes the body. For example, if you regularly consume coffee and find yourself anxious afterwards, try drinking green tea instead. If you are looking to make positive changes in your life to reduce blood pressure and improve your health, prioritize foods that lower blood pressure such as those in this guide.
4. Monitor Blood Pressure Regularly
Another helpful way to stay in control of your health is by monitoring your blood pressure regularly. Sphygmomanometers can be purchased for at-home use and easily measure your blood pressure. In particular, digital sphygmomanometers are more accurate, safer to use, and more affordable than the older analog models.
Record your blood pressure readings over time, as it can potentially help with early symptom detection of more serious issues with the help of a physician. In general, the average healthy blood pressure is between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg.
5. Supplements & Medications
Additionally, supplements and medications can be used to ease anxiety.
Supplements exist for improving your health and lowering your blood pressure. Read this guide to learn about a few of these options to maintain a healthier heart!
Derived from cannabis plants, CBD oils have been suggested to relieve anxiety. To learn more about it, you can check this Spruce CBD review. Additionally, read this guide for more details on how to use CBD oils for anxiety.
Another option is aromatherapy, which uses essential oils with pleasant smells that produce relaxing effects when absorbed through smell and skin.
Finally, there are also prescription-based anxiety medications available. You can meet with your primary care physician who can further advise you on these options.
6. Therapy & Counseling
A helpful way to manage anxiety is with professional therapy and counseling. You can seek therapy or counseling to learn coping mechanisms, stress reduction techniques, and relaxation exercises.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) are two approaches that can be helpful. As explained by the American Psychological Association, CBT can help treat anxiety disorder, eating disorder, alcohol and drug use problems, depression, and mental illness.
7. Join Support Group
Finally, joining support groups that specialize in anxiety can contribute to your recovery process. You will connect with others who share similar experiences and can provide valuable support and insights. You can find your local support groups through your primary doctor or online, being mindful of other members and the rules of each group that you are considering joining.
Anxiety and high blood pressure are indeed related. The physiological response to anxiety, such as increased heart rate and narrowed blood vessels, can elevate blood pressure levels. Additionally, long-term anxiety can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking, overeating, or excessive alcohol consumption, which also contributes to high blood pressure.
There are many ways to reduce your anxiety and blood pressure. This can be done by addressing both your physical and mental health, incorporating exercise, healthy diets, and seeking professional help.
Frequently Asked Questions
Anxiety is a complex condition that can arise from various factors, including genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
To measure your blood pressure, you will need a blood pressure monitor. Follow the specific directions of the device that you are using, and you will get your results. Alternatively, you can ask your doctor or local pharmacy for assistance.
Anxiety and hypertension are not the same, although they can be related and influence each other. Anxiety is one of the common mental health conditions, which is characterized by excessive worry, fear, or apprehension. On the other hand, high blood pressure refers to increased pressure in the arteries when blood is pumped from the heart.
The use of medications to treat anxiety and high blood pressure can vary depending on an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. Generally, do not try to take prescription medication without strictly following your physician’s instructions. Always consult a medical professional before making changes to your medications.
Yes, anxiety can temporarily raise blood pressu