Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Anxiety: A cause of high blood pressure?

Can anxiety cause high blood pressure?

Updated: 05-20-2011

Answer

Anxiety doesn't cause long-term high blood pressure (hypertension). But episodes of anxiety can cause dramatic, temporary spikes in your blood pressure.

If those temporary episodes occur frequently, such as every day, they can cause damage to your blood vessels, heart and kidneys, as can chronic high blood pressure. In addition, when you have anxiety you're more likely to resort to other unhealthy habits that can increase your blood pressure, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Overeating

Some medications to treat anxiety, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), also can increase your blood pressure.

If you have trouble controlling your anxiety or if anxiety interferes with daily activities, talk to your doctor or a mental health provider to find an appropriate treatment.