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. There are ways to control your blood pressure with lifestyle changes and/or medication. Adhering to an effective hypertension treatment plan can get your blood pressure under control and improve your mental health. Here’s what our physicians at Westmed Family Healthcare want you to know about hypertension and your mental health.
What is hypertension?
High blood pressure is extremely common in the United States, with more than 100 million adults classified as having hypertension, according to data from the American Heart Association.
Your heart pumps blood continuously through your entire body, and as it pumps, the force of the movement creates pressure inside your arteries and against the walls of your blood vessels and veins. This pressure can build up tremendously, causing the force of the movement to become abnormally high. When blood pressure remains elevated, it damages your blood vessels over time.
Most people know that chronic hypertension increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, but you may not be aware that uncontrolled or poorly controlled hypertension puts your mental health at risk as well.
High blood pressure is manageable
Hypertension is considered a modifiable risk factor for heart disease. In other words, you can make certain lifestyle changes to bring your blood pressure within a healthy range and lower your risk of complications.
Practical measures like eating a heart-healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, losing weight, and quitting smoking can go a long way in managing high blood pressure. When lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough, we may recommend medication to control your blood pressure.
How does hypertension affect your mental health?
Just getting a diagnosis of hypertension can make you feel anxious. But it’s important to know that with adequate treatment, you can get your blood pressure under control and protect your heart and mental health. Having high blood pressure doesn’t mean that you’re destined to die of a heart attack or stroke.
Researchers have explored the connection between high blood pressure and mental health and found that it can affect your mental health in the following ways:
Anxiety and depression themselves can cause you avoid treatment. Patients with anxiety and depression are less likely to take their medication and comply with their treatment as directed, compounding the problem and leaving blood pressure uncontrolled or poorly controlled.
Hypertension causes a state of low-grade, chronic inflammation. The chemicals involved in chronic inflammatory responses can negatively affect your mental health, interfering with mood-regulating chemicals.
Untreated hypertension increases the level of stress-related chemicals circulating in your blood. Making matters worse, stress-related chemicals increase blood pressure. This two-way relationship spells trouble for your mental health.
Stress is a major risk factor in mental health disorders. Treating your high blood pressure and bringing your stress levels down can improve your mental health and lower the chances of experiencing anxiety and depression.
Seek treatment for hypertension
At Westmed Family Healthcare, we carefully consider your mental health and how it affects your work life and your family life. We work continuously to offer not only medical support, but access to the best remedies, research, and treatment. To schedule an appointment with one of our experienced providers, call our Westminster, Colorado, office or use our online booking system.