Can anxiety cause high blood pressure- 200 shocking truths

Anxiety is a condition defined as too much, continuous worrying over an imminent event such as death or illness of oneself or the others, or maybe even small events such as being late for an appointment or other uncertain outcomes.

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, alarm, or nervousness that can occur in response to stress or perceived danger which may or may not be present.

It is necessary to know when you are facing an anxiety attack by recognizing its symptoms. It generally occurs after a period of extensive worrying for hours, or even days.  There is no timeline defined to anxiety and the worries can last anywhere from minutes to hours, sometimes even for days and weeks.

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You may think that anxiety is just an emotional and mental issue. However, because of anxiety you may develop several symptoms which might affect or disrupt daily functioning of your life.

Anxiety may cause high blood pressure?

Anxiety can activate the fight or flight response in your body. It is the natural response of your body to face a crisis or a stressful situation.

When you feel stressed or anxious, your body reacts by releasing hormones into your body. These hormones then sending messages to the rest of your body by way of neurotransmitters to prepare for the situation by certain physical or physiological changes like:

  • get the heart pumping faster so your heart beat rate increases
  • increase the breathing rate so you inhale more oxygen
  • tense the muscles
  • send more blood to the brain to make it work faster

These hormones affect virtually every system in your body like your cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, and respiratory systems.

Sometimes, these stress hormones cause an increase in the heart rate and a narrowing of the blood vessels. Both these changes temporarily cause blood pressure to rise, sometimes dramatically.

Thus, you will find that during the period of anxiety; the BP of a person is on a higher side. However, rise in blood pressure because of anxiety is temporary and it tends to reduce once the period of anxiety wanes or is over.

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Some studies have suggested that people who have intense anxiety are more at risk of developing hypertension than those with lower levels of anxiety. Thus, it becomes imperative for early detection and treatment of anxiety in people with hypertension.

Studies have also indicated that factors and behaviors which contribute towards an increased level of anxiety are similar to those causing hypertension such as:

  • Poor dietary habits like meals which are low in fruits, vegetables, and protein, and high in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates.
  • Excessive intake of caffeine in the body.
  • Lack of enough quality sleep.
  • Lack of physical activities like regular exercise, jogging, yoga etc.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse, smoking etc.

Can high blood pressure cause anxiety?

People having high blood pressure may sometimes start thinking and worrying about their health conditions and the future which may lead to anxiety.

Sometimes, the symptoms of hypertension, which include headaches, blurred vision, and shortness of breath, can be so frightening that they may cause anxiety.

Treatments for anxiety

Your doctor may perform some medical tests to decide whether there is some underlying illness or any drug related issue which is causing you anxiety. Anxiety has been linked to:

  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • thyroid disorders
  • heart disease
  • menopause

If your healthcare professional suspects that a medical condition or drug related issue are causing nausea, they may ask for some further tests to be done to conclude on the diagnosis. These may include:

  • blood tests, to find out whether hormone levels have gone haywire because of thyroid disorder
  • urine tests, to check for substance abuse
  • gastric reflux tests, such as an X-ray of your digestive system or an endoscopy procedure to look at your esophagus, to check for GERD

If it has been confirmed by your healthcare professional; the nausea which you are facing on a regular basis is because of anxiety disorder; you need to know that you have to work towards reducing the anxiety and stress level in your body.

Working and managing towards reducing anxiety levels will automatically reduce its symptoms and will make you feel better.

Several strategies for fighting anxiety include:

  • Jogging and exercise – jogging is very helpful in fighting anxiety. It tires your muscles, which relax the amount of tension that your muscles put on your stomach.

Physical activities signal the body to release endorphins. Endorphins are feel good hormones which helps in alleviating stress and uplifts your mood.

  • Deep Breathing – Remember that when you are not breathing properly, the brain is receiving less oxygen than required which hampers you in thinking and functioning properly.

Whenever, you feel that anxiety is taking control of you; try focusing the attention on your breathing and try to inhale and exhale slowly and at a steady rate. This will help you in calming down. Slow and deep breathing is one of several stress reduction techniques which brings your heart and mind under control.

  • Try relaxation techniques

Methods of relaxation, such as progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery, can reduce feelings of panic and anxiety.

A person can learn these techniques online or by working with a qualified therapist.

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  • Home remedies and lifestyle changes

There are certain home remedies as well as lifestyle related things which will help you in reducing anxiety and nausea. These are self help strategies and often will help you in reducing the stress level in your body.

  • Maintaining a positive attitude towards life and in general. Try to warden off negative thoughts from your life.
  • Know what the stressors in your life are. Try to manage or reduce these stressors.
  • You should try to limit alcohol and caffeine intake in your body.
  • Try to eat wholesome and balanced meals every day. Having anti oxidants in your meals will help manage free radicals. Your nutrition doesn’t necessarily affect your anxiety nausea. However, it can affect the severity of nausea. Heavy, fattening, unwholesome meals tend to cause anxiety which may lead to more nausea than healthy meals.
  • Drinking plenty of water keeps your body hydrated and nourished. Sometimes, if ypur body is dehydrated; it may also add to the anxiety. So drinking plenty of water also helps in combating stress. However, please remember that that you should not drink too much water or gulp down too quickly, it may add to the nausea.
  • Try to sleep continuously at a stretch for 8 hours in night. Having a good sleep relaxes your body and prepare your body for the coming day.
  • Exercise every day
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

A type of psychotherapy (sometimes called as talk therapy) known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is especially useful for treating anxiety.

Your therapist will try to give you an understanding of how this disorder is affecting your life and give a perspective of how it can be made better by reducing your anxiety level.

Your therapist will try to change the way you think and your response and behaviors towards situations- both wanted and unwanted.

In therapy sessions, you will learn how to recognize and control your anxious thoughts. Your therapist will also teach you how to calm yourself when upsetting thoughts arise.

CBT is a long term strategy to overcome anxiety.

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy

This type of therapy focuses to deal with the cause of a person’s anxiety by ways of self-reflection and self-examination. This therapy might be useful for anxiety resulting from a traumatic experience or deep-seated emotional conflict.

  • Medication

Medication can reduce symptoms in people with severe anxiety. They may only be needed for a short period of time to control symptoms while you work on the other strategies to reduce anxiety. It can be used in conjunction with therapy or as a stand-alone treatment.

  • Anti anxiety Medication and anti deressants

Anti-anxiety medications are really helpful and they start working right away in lessening your anxiety and fear level.  However, since these medications are powerful; they are generally not advised for a longer period of time.

They are once started so that you can meanwhile look for other methods of treatment.

Patients have reported to develop tolerance towards this type of and the same dose might not work for them. In order to get the same effect of less anxiety; they have been given higher and higher doses of this medicine.

Some people may even become dependent on them. In order to avoid these situations, generally healthcare professionals advise these anti-anxiety medications for short periods and look for long term solutions.

Though antidepressants are mainly used to treat depression, but they have also proved to be helpful for reducing anxiety. These medications do not start working right away and may take several weeks to show their effect.

There are side effects of these drugs but they are not severe. Incase if some side effects are intolerable, you should inform your doctor about the same.

  • Beta-blockers

Beta-blockers are medicines that can help block some of the physical symptoms of anxiety on the body, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, or tremors. Beta-blockers are commonly the medications of choice for the “performance anxiety” type of social anxiety.

Treating hypertension with anxiety disorder

If your blood pressure goes up and down with changes in your anxiety levels but is generally within normal range, you shouldn’t look for medication for high blood pressure. However, if you have both; then you should look for treatments which are not in conflict with each other. Your healthcare professional would be better to decide that after going through your medical history.

Apart from the medical advice; as discussed in the article above; it is required that you make lifestyle changes to deal with anxiety better. Some methods suggested for long term treatment of both anxiety and hypertension together are:

  • Exercise, deep breathing or yoga: Physical exercise is a great way to bolster your overall health. Exercise releases hormones in your body which improve your body’s ability to handle stress and help you relax.

It also gives a positive feeling that you are doing something for yourself and taking care of yourself. Any physical activity lifts your mood and reduces anxiety symptoms.

Aim to exercise at least five days per week for 30–45 minutes each session.

You may also practice yoga in your room in the morning which can help you feel calmer. Taking some time to meditate and relax will help you stay present and face the situation with a calmer disposition.

Breathing is a power tool in reducing anxiety because it calls upon your body’s relaxation response. Breathing properly can help ensure that your blood is being properly oxygenated and thus, the body doesn’t produce stress hormone.

You should focus the attention on your breathing and try to inhale and exhale slowly and at a steady rate. This will help you in calming down.

  • Good sleep habits: Sleep is considered to be the best remedy to rejuvenate both our physical and physiological health. Studies have suggested that giving good sleep to your body helps in boosting your mental health.

If you are not giving yourself a good quality sleep, you may be having a host of complaints like headaches, decreased energy, poor concentration, short-term memory problems, irritability, and anxiety. Also, when you are sleep-deprived, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of your body.

Remember that a good sleep is a precursor to a good start of the day. So, let your natural body clock decide how much hours of sleep your body requires and maintain a good sleep cycle.

  • Watching the intake of alcohol: Alcohol in small amounts is heart healthy, but in large amounts actually leads to heart disease. Any amount of alcohol can also make anxiety worse. You’re best to avoid it if you have both chronic anxiety and hypertension.
  • Being intimate with your partner: Studies have indicated that sex releases hormones in the body which reduces stress and lower blood pressure and brings an overall feeling of relief and calmness. So, if you’re having sex with your partner on a regular basis, you’ll find that improvements in anxiety and blood pressure issues.

A Word

Anxiety and hypertension are related to each other. Your blood pressure will increase when going through phase of anxiety; however it will reduce when that period is over. But, if you suffer from chronic anxiety; it is quite probable that you may develop hypertension.

Both anxiety and hypertension can be treated with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. The underlying causes behind a person to develop anxiety disorder and hypertension are similar. It is required that you address those causes and issues as early as possible which are leading to both stress and hypertension.