Does anxiety cause high blood pressure?

Danielle J Harrison
Author: Danielle J Harrison Medical Reviewer: Morgan Blair Last updated:

Anxiety can cause significant, temporary increases in blood pressure, but there is no evidence that it directly causes hypertension, or long-term high blood pressure. [3] That said, when left untreated, people with anxiety may still be at an increased risk of developing hypertension. [2]

How does anxiety increase blood pressure?

When someone is anxious, the body releases hormones that may constrict blood vessels and increase their heart rate, resulting in temporary spikes in blood pressure. [3] However, blood pressure levels generally return to normal after the anxiety subsides. [1]

How does anxiety increase the risk of hypertension?

Anxious individuals may be more likely to develop hypertension for several reasons. First, individuals with anxiety are more likely to participate in unhealthy behaviors that may increase blood pressure, like drinking, smoking, or eating a poor diet. [3] They’re also less likely to get regular physical exercise. [1]

Furthermore, chronic anxiety, like Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder, has the potential to cause sustained increases in blood pressure in some people. [2] The mechanism isn’t entirely understood, but it is believed that this persistent and chronic stress can change the body’s hormonal and nervous system responses over time. [2]

In addition, some medications used to treat anxiety, such as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), can raise an individual’s blood pressure. [3]

On the other hand, elevated blood pressure can also lead to feelings of anxiety, as individuals stress about their health. [1] The physical symptoms of anxiety, such as shortness of breath and blurred vision, can be stressful in and of themselves. [1] So while anxious individuals may be more likely to have hypertension, the direction of this relationship isn’t always clear.

Treating anxiety-related high blood pressure

Both high blood pressure and anxiety are treatable conditions, so it’s important to consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you’re experiencing symptoms of either health condition. Unless you’re diagnosed with hypertension, the underlying anxiety will be the focus of treatment, which may include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is generally the therapeutic approach of choice for anxiety. [1] This method involves challenging one’s negative thoughts and behavior patterns. [1]

Several medications may be used to treat anxiety, including buspirone, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines. Beta-blockers are sometimes used, which also directly help to lower stress on the cardiovascular system. [1]

Some recommended lifestyle changes include getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and regular physical exercise. [1] Breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, and reducing any external stressors can also be helpful.

Individuals diagnosed with hypertension should be screened for anxiety early in their treatment. It’s also recommended that psychological support is included in antihypertensive therapy. [2]

  1. IBCCES Learning Community. (n.d.). What is the link between anxiety and high blood pressure? Retrieved from
  2. Pan Y, Cai W, Cheng Q, Dong W, An T, Yan J. (2015). Association between anxiety and hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 11, 1121–1130.
  3. Sheps, S.G. (2022). Anxiety: A cause of high blood pressure? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from
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Danielle J Harrison
Author Danielle J Harrison Writer

Danielle J. Harrison is writer and mental health counselor with a master's degree from The City College of New York.

Published: Jun 22nd 2023, Last edited: Sep 22nd 2023

Morgan Blair
Medical Reviewer Morgan Blair MA, LPCC

Morgan Blair is a licensed therapist, writer and medical reviewer, holding a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Northwestern University.

Content reviewed by a medical professional. Last reviewed: Jun 22nd 2023