Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure? (2023)

Anxiety is a natural response to stress or perceived danger and is often associated with fear and worry. If you’re feeling anxious, you may experience physical symptoms, such as sweating, shaking, nausea, or muscle tenseness. These symptoms may not go away if you have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and this can raise blood pressure, just as chronic high blood pressure or hypertension can cause feelings of anxiety.

We all experience anxiety on occasion, but if you have been diagnosed with GAD and high blood pressure, you’ll want to seek care. A healthcare provider can offer stress management strategies and ways to prevent blood pressure spikes. This article discusses the connection between anxiety disorder and high blood pressure and what a diagnosis and treatment look like for both conditions.

The Connection Between Anxiety Disorder and High Blood Pressure

When you’re faced with a stressful situation—a public speaking engagement, an unexpected call, a panicked crowd, or even a high-pressure work environment—your fight-or-flight response can be triggered.

According to Michael Wheaton, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Barnard College, this may cause your heart rate to speed up, your body to sweat, and your blood pressure to rise temporarily.

"Your body is increasing your heart rate and physiological arousal to be able to manage a potentially dangerous situation, and as a natural consequence, your blood pressure increases during this time," says Wheaton. "Typically, your blood pressure returns to the normal range as the anxiety passes."

If you have an anxiety disorder, these spikes can occur more frequently and lead to various physical symptoms, such as irritability, muscle tension, fatigue, and/or difficulty sleeping, as well as high blood pressure.

Your body is increasing your heart rate and physiological arousal to be able to manage a potentially dangerous situation, and as a natural consequence your blood pressure increases during this time. Typically your blood pressure returns to the normal range as the anxiety passes.


Those with hypertension are also more likely to have or develop an anxiety disorder, depression, and other mental health conditions—and studies have shown that 37.1% of patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) experience anxiety.

Physical Symptoms Associated with Stress

Complications of Anxiety and High Blood Pressure

Unmanaged stress or anxiety can have a negative effect on your cognitive functioning, your immune system, gastrointestinal (GI) system, and your cardiovascular system. Unfortunately, some people use unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with their chronic stress or anxiety and engage in the following behaviors:

  • Smoking
  • Poor sleep
  • Avoiding exercise
  • Poor diet
  • Drinking alcohol to excess

These can have a negative impact on overall health and well-being and can contribute to hypertension, poor heart health, and severe health complications. This may be, in part, why anxiety disorder and high blood pressure are so closely linked.

(Video) Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure?

When to See a Doctor

If you’re experiencing severe headaches, vision problems, chest pain, confusion, shortness of breath, trouble concentrating, fatigue, changes in sleep or diet, or irritability, these could be signs of anxiety or high blood pressure.

Diagnosis of Anxiety and High Blood Pressure

Anxiety can be challenging to monitor. Excessive monitoring can have paradoxical negative consequences, according to Dr. Wheaton, as the process of noticing changes in your body's functioning might cause anxiety. This could then cause more anxious arousal in an escalating cycle, and these escalatory cycles of arousal and anxiety can culminate in panic attacks as experienced by individuals with panic disorder.

Often the best thing you can do is look at the underlying causes of your stress and anxiety to best manage them. Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you feel uncomfortable at work?
  • Do you get anxious around certain people?
  • Do certain activities, like driving, making certain phone calls, or going to crowded events make you uncomfortable and stressed?

What Is Rumination?

Treatment of Anxiety and High Blood Pressure

If you want to address your anxiety and blood pressure, some practitioners offer a treatment that involves biofeedback, in which physiological monitoring of your bodily arousal is made observable to you so that you can notice that your body is becoming tense and anxious, Dr. Wheaton explains. “The idea is that with practice, you could learn to control your bodily response, easing tension and slowing your heart rate down to enter a more relaxed state.”

Unless you’re visiting your healthcare provider's office frequently or using your own at-home blood pressure monitor, it’s hard to know if your blood pressure is elevated. We do know, however, how to recognize the signs and feelings of stress and anxiety—and you can take action to protect your health by implementing healthy habits and simple stress management techniques.

  • Exercise regularly: This can be as simple as taking a walk, practicing yoga, or spending time in the gym.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Try to lower your intake of foods high in saturated fats and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your daily meals.
  • Get quality sleep: If this means starting your night routine earlier or setting your phone outside of your room, make sure you get plenty of sleep.
  • Try deep breathing: Find a quiet place free of distractions, such as your bedroom, couch, or even outside.
  • Relax your muscles: Dr. Wheaton recommends progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), an anxiety-reducing technique in which you alternate between tensing and releasing muscles throughout the body.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation: This can be used anywhere, at any time. Slow down your thoughts, calm your breath, and focus on your body in the present moment.
  • Visit a therapist: Mental health professionals can help you develop coping strategies or recommend a more comprehensive treatment plan.

How to Manage Your Anxiety

A Word From Verywell

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, look for ways to better manage the stress in your life. This may require adjustments to your behavior, lifestyle, or work/life obligations. Do what you can to minimize stress and anxiety. If you can’t or if stress management techniques aren’t working, let your doctor know.

“Meeting with a treatment provider could be helpful to differentiate anxiety-related bodily arousal (which typically involves temporary benign increases in blood pressure) and more serious medical concerns such as hypertension,” Dr. Wheaton says.

If you or a loved one are struggling with stress, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

(Video) Can stress or anxiety cause high blood pressure?

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Stress is inevitable, but it shouldn’t be a part of your every day. If you have hypertension or if you're feeling stressed on a regular basis, it’s time to slow down, evaluate your behaviors, habits, and stressors, and make some necessary changes so you can better care for your overall health and well-being. Know that there are tools, resources, and services out there to help you manage high levels of stress and anxiety.

7 Alternative Treatments for High Blood Pressure

4 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057-1072.

  2. Kretchy, I. A., Owusu-Daaku, F. T., & Danquah, S. A. (2014). Mental health in hypertension: Assessing symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress on anti-hypertensive medication adherence.International Journal of Mental Health Systems,8(1), 25. doi:10.1186/1752-4458-8-25.

    (Video) Can ANXIETY cause my High Blood Pressure?

  3. Mai, A. S., Lim, O. Z. H., Ho, Y. J., Kong, G., Lim, G. E. H., Ng, C. H., Ho, C., Ho, R., Lim, Y., Kuntjoro, I., Tay, E., Yip, J., Chew, N. W. S., & Low, T.-T. (2022). Prevalence, risk factors and intervention for depression and anxiety in pulmonary hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis.Frontiers in Medicine,9, 765461. doi:10.3389/fmed.2022.765461

  4. van Oort, S., Beulens, J. W. J., van Ballegooijen, A. J., Grobbee, D. E., & Larsson, S. C. (2020). Association of cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle behaviors with hypertension.Hypertension,76(6), 1971–1979. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.15761

Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure? (1)

By Sarah Sheppard
Sarah Sheppard is a writer, editor, ghostwriter, writing instructor, and advocate for mental health, women's issues, and more.

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(Video) Anxiety and High Blood Pressure


How much does anxiety raise BP? ›

This occurs in 15% to 30% of patients who have a rise in their blood pressure due to nerves or anxiety when they are in a clinical setting, such as a dentist's or doctor's office (hence the “white coat” name). In fact, this type of anxiety can raise blood pressure by 10 points.

What does high blood pressure feel like anxiety? ›

Having high blood pressure can trigger feelings of anxiety in some people. Those whom doctors diagnose with hypertension may worry about their health and their future. Sometimes, the symptoms of hypertension, which include headaches, blurred vision, and shortness of breath, can be enough to cause panic or anxiety.

Why do I suddenly have high blood pressure? ›

High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure. Stress-related habits such as eating more, using tobacco or drinking alcohol can lead to further increases in blood pressure. Certain chronic conditions.

Can drinking water lower blood pressure? ›

Something as simple as keeping yourself hydrated by drinking six to eight glasses of water every day improves blood pressure. Water makes up 73% of the human heart,¹ so no other liquid is better at controlling blood pressure.

What time of day is blood pressure highest? ›

Blood pressure has a daily pattern. Usually, blood pressure starts to rise a few hours before a person wakes up. It continues to rise during the day, peaking in midday. Blood pressure typically drops in the late afternoon and evening.

Can being calm lower blood pressure? ›

Fully relaxing your body and your mind for a few minutes a day could lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) by 10 points or more—at no cost, and with no side effects.

How do you calm your blood pressure down fast? ›

How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure Immediately?
  1. Take a warm bath or shower. Stay in your shower or bath for at least 15 minutes and enjoy the warm water. ...
  2. Do a breathing exercise. Take a deep breath from your core, hold your breath for about two seconds, then slowly exhale. ...
  3. Relax!

Can you feel when you have high blood pressure? ›

Blood pressure is mostly a silent disease

Unfortunately, high blood pressure can happen without feeling any abnormal symptoms. Moderate or severe headaches, anxiety, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, palpitations, or feeling of pulsations in the neck are some signs of high blood pressure.

How do you know if your stress is high blood pressure? ›

All of these things can raise your blood pressure. Stress can affect sleep and contribute to depression, which may impact blood pressure as well.
Symptoms of stress-induced hypertension
  1. Headaches.
  2. Nosebleeds.
  3. Facial flushing.
  4. Dizziness.
  5. Palpitations.
May 12, 2022

Can anti anxiety meds lower blood pressure? ›

Can anxiety treatment affect blood pressure? Medications used to treat anxiety can help reduce overall anxiety levels, which can reduce blood pressure spikes. However, some anxiety treatment options may also cause an increase in blood pressure levels.

What is the best blood pressure medicine for anxiety? ›

Propranolol slows down your heart rate and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body. It's usually prescribed for high blood pressure and other heart problems, but it can also help with the physical signs of anxiety, like sweating and shaking.

What is the number one food that causes high blood pressure? ›

Salt or sodium

Salt, or specifically the sodium in salt, is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease. This is because of how it affects fluid balance in the blood. Table salt is around 40 percent sodium. Some amount of salt is important for health, but it's easy to eat too much.

Is high BP reversible? ›

While there is no cure for high blood pressure, it is important for patients to take steps that matter, such as making effective lifestyle changes and taking BP-lowering medications as prescribed by their physicians.

Can lack of sleep cause high blood pressure? ›

Insomnia is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Over time, poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy habits that can hurt your heart, including higher stress levels, less motivation to be physically active, and unhealthy food choices.

When is blood pressure high enough to go to the hospital? ›

Call 911 or emergency medical services if your blood pressure is 180/120 mm Hg or greater and you have chest pain, shortness of breath, or symptoms of stroke. Stroke symptoms include numbness or tingling, trouble speaking, or changes in vision.

Does aspirin lower blood pressure? ›

The important thing to remember is that aspirin does not lower blood pressure on its own. However, its ability to thin out the blood can benefit some people with high blood pressure.

What is normal blood pressure by age? ›

Blood pressure (Systolic & Diastolic) chart by age
AgeMinimum (Systolic/Diastolic)Normal (Systolic/Diastolic)
6 to 13 years90/60105/70
14 to 19 years105/73117/77
20 to 24 years108/75120/79
25 to 29 years109/76121/80
9 more rows
May 2, 2022

When should you not take your blood pressure? ›

Your health care provider might recommend taking your blood pressure at the same times each day. Don't measure your blood pressure right after you wake up. You can prepare for the day, but don't eat breakfast or take medications before measuring your blood pressure.

Can a tight blood pressure cuff cause a high reading? ›

Blood Pressure Cuff Placement

If the cuff is too small, it can add 2 to 10 points to your bp measurement. Be sure to roll up your sleeve for a blood pressure test and also let your doctor know if the cuff feels too tight around your arm.

How often should I check my blood pressure if its high? ›

“I advise people diagnosed with hypertension to check their blood pressure twice per day until they have it under control,” she says. “After that, it's fine to check it one to two times per week.”

What is the main symptoms of anxiety? ›

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.
  • Having an increased heart rate.
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling.
  • Feeling weak or tired.
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

Is high blood pressure a mental illness? ›

You may not think of mental health disorders when you think about high blood pressure, but a connection exists. If you have hypertension, you're more likely to experience mood issues, such as anxiety and depression than those with normal blood pressure. Hypertension is a manageable condition.

What does ER do for high blood pressure? ›

What kind of treatment will I get at the ER for hypertension? “If you are diagnosed with a hypertensive episode, you will be given oral or intravenous medications to try to bring the blood pressure down,” says Dr. Meier. “Damage will also be assessed.

What supplements lower blood pressure? ›

Research shows that some supplements may help lower blood pressure. These include magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, CoQ10, garlic, and fish oil.

What hurts when you have high blood pressure? ›

Chest pain, also called angina, occurs when the heart does not get the blood it needs. When people with high blood pressure perform activities such as walking uphill, going up steps, or exercising, angina can cause pressure, squeezing, pain, or a feeling of fullness in the chest.

How does your head feel when your blood pressure is high? ›

In some cases, people with high blood pressure may have a pounding feeling in their head or chest, a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness, or other signs. Without symptoms, people with high blood pressure may go years without knowing they have the condition.

What are the 5 symptoms of high blood pressure? ›

Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
  • Blurry or double vision.
  • Lightheadedness/Fainting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.

Can psychological stress cause high blood pressure? ›

Stress can cause hypertension through repeated blood pressure elevations as well as by stimulation of the nervous system to produce large amounts of vasoconstricting hormones that increase blood pressure.

Which blood pressure number goes up with stress? ›

Negative MSNA responders to mental stress exhibit a more rapid rise in diastolic pressure at the onset of the stressor, suggesting a baroreflex‐mediated suppression of MSNA. In positive responders there is a more sluggish rise in blood pressure during mental stress, which appears to be MSNA‐driven.

Can anxiety damage your heart? ›

The Effect of Anxiety on the Heart

Rapid heart rate (tachycardia) – In serious cases, can interfere with normal heart function and increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Increased blood pressure – If chronic, can lead to coronary disease, weakening of the heart muscle, and heart failure.

Does anxiety raise systolic or diastolic BP? ›

When you experience anxiety your heart rate increases – presumably to pump blood to areas of your body that need it if you were fighting or fleeing. But that increase in cardiac output causes an increase in pressure that raises your systolic pressure.

Can anxiety cause strokes? ›

People in the highest third of anxiety symptoms had a 33 percent higher stroke risk than those with the lowest levels. “Everyone has some anxiety now and then. But when it's elevated and/or chronic, it may have an effect on your vasculature years down the road,” said Maya Lambiase, Ph.

What is the number one medicine for anxiety? ›

Benzodiazepines (also known as tranquilizers) are the most widely prescribed type of medication for anxiety. Drugs such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) work quickly, typically bringing relief within 30 minutes to an hour.

Can Xanax lower high blood pressure? ›

Alprazolam is as effective as captopril in lowering BP in ED patients with an initial SBP > 160 mmHg.

What are natural beta-blockers for anxiety? ›

Beta-blockers are a type of drug that can reduce stress on the heart. Fish, garlic, berries, and certain vitamins and amino acids are all natural sources of beta-blockers.

What should I do if my BP is 150 100? ›

Lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure
  1. reduce the amount of salt you eat and have a generally healthy diet.
  2. cut back on alcohol.
  3. lose weight if you're overweight.
  4. exercise regularly.
  5. cut down on caffeine.
  6. stop smoking.

What helps anxiety before blood pressure test? ›

Find a technique that helps you calm down when you're anxious or stressed. For example, breathe deeply and exhale slowly. Try a few of these breaths before your blood pressure reading. Reciting a poem or verse in your mind may help you relax, too.

How high can anxiety raise your heart rate? ›

In many cases, a panic attack triggers a fast heart rate, also known as tachycardia. The heart rate may speed up to 200 beats per minute or even faster. A fast heart rate can make you feel lightheaded and short of breath. Or you might feel fluttering or pounding in the chest.

How can you tell the difference between anxiety and hypertension? ›

It can be difficult to distinguish between anxiety and changes in blood pressure. Hypertension does not usually cause symptoms. This means it is important for a person to have a doctor check their blood pressure regularly.

Can you feel high blood pressure? ›

Unfortunately, high blood pressure can happen without feeling any abnormal symptoms. Moderate or severe headaches, anxiety, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, palpitations, or feeling of pulsations in the neck are some signs of high blood pressure.

Should I go to the hospital if my blood pressure is 150 over 90? ›

Your blood pressure is considered high (stage 1) if it reads 130/80. Stage 2 high blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. If you get a blood pressure reading of 180/110 or higher more than once, seek medical treatment right away. A reading this high is considered “hypertensive crisis.”

Can treating anxiety lower blood pressure? ›

work well for acute short term anxiety. can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, relieving physical symptoms. may be an alternative for people who experience intolerable side effects when they take other anti-anxiety medications.

How do I know if I have heart problems or anxiety? ›

The difference is that, when extra heartbeats in the upper and lower chambers are the cause of abnormal rhythm, symptoms may feel like an initial skip or hard thumping beat followed by a racing heart. When anxiety is the trigger, heart rate typically increases steadily rather than suddenly.

How do I relax my heart from anxiety? ›

How can I manage heart palpitations and anxiety?
  1. Coping with stress.
  2. Diaphragmatic breathing.
  3. Exercising regularly.
  4. Getting enough sleep.
  5. Meditation.
  6. Pursed-lip breathing.
  7. Tai chi, yoga or other mindful movement.
Jul 23, 2021


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