Blood Pressure Drugs Can Affect Your Mood

Latest research suggests that taking some antihypertensive medications may affect your mood. Taking a calcium antagonist or a beta blocker may increase your risk of developing depression or bipolar disorder, while taking an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin-receptor blocker may reduce your risk. Thiazide diuretics appear to have a neutral effect on mood.

BP drugs and mood

illustration-depressed-guyThe link between antihypertensive drugs and mood was noted in data from over half a million people, aged 40 to – 80, who attended two Scottish hospitals. From these, around 144,000 patients who were receiving treatment for hypertension 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 hypertension 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 antihypertensive 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.

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.

See my recommended upper arm blood pressure monitors.

Image credits: American Heart Association

About DrSarahBrewer

Dr Sarah Brewer qualified from Cambridge University with degrees in Natural Sciences, Medicine and Surgery. After working in general practice, she gained a master's degree in nutritional medicine from the University of Surrey. Sarah is a licensed Medical Doctor, a Registered Nutritionist and a Registered Nutritional Therapist. She is an award winning author of over 60 popular self-help books and a columnist for Prima magazine.

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