Latest research suggests that taking some high blood pressure treatments can affect your mood. The blood pressure treatments most likely to cause depression are calcium antagonist and beta blockers while taking an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin II receptor blocker may reduce your risk of depression. Thiazide diuretics appear to have a neutral effect on mood.
Blood pressure drugs and mood
The link between blood pressure drugs and mood was first noted in data from over half a million people, aged 40 to 80 years, who attended two Scottish hospitals. From these, around 144,000 patients who were receiving treatment for high blood pressure were selected and followed for five years.
Another similar group of around 112,000 other patients, who were not taking any of these antihypertensive drugs, were also followed to act as controls.
The results, published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension, showed that people who took either a beta-blocker or a calcium antagonist drug were twice as likely to need admission to hospital for a serious mood disorder compared to those taking an angiotensin antagonist (ACE inhibitor or angiotensin-receptor blocker). When other co-existing medical conditions were taken into account, the risk of experiencing a mood disorder increased even further.
Overall, people taking an angiotensin antagonist had the lowest risk for hospitalisation with a mood disorder – even lower than those not taking any antihypertensive treatments, suggesting they may have a beneficial, protective effect on emotions.
People taking thiazide diuretics had the same risk for mood disorders as those not taking antihypertensive drugs, indicating that these did not appear to affect mood one way or the other.
High blood pressure and depression
Previous research has suggested that high blood pressure and depression are linked, so that people with depression are 76% more likely to have hypertension than those without depression. The most likely explanation is that depression is associated with chemical imbalances that affect central blood pressure control, so that blood pressure rises. Another possibility is that hypertension affects blood flow to certain parts of the brain which regulate mood and emotions.
The results of this latest research linking high blood pressure medications with mood need further investigation. In the meantime, people with a past history of depression or bipolar disorder who need antihypertensive treatment may do better on some classes of antihypertensive drug than others.
If you think your medication is affecting your mood and you feel low, talk to your doctor as other treatment options are available. Practising meditation may help to both lift your mood and lower your blood pressure. Relaxation exercises can also help.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
Image credits: American Heart Association