Researchers have found a link between hypertension and depression, so that people with low mood are more likely to have a high blood pressure than those without depression.
This finding came from the 8-year’s worth of data in which 3124 randomly-chosen people, aged 57-84, were visited at home by doctors to have their mood and blood pressure checked. Around one in two (53%) of those assessed were found to have hypertension, one in twenty had clinical depression, and one in seven had generalised anxiety.
While the researchers found no association between hypertension and anxiety, there was a definite link with depression. Patients with depression were 76% more likely to have hypertension than those without depression.
The link between blood pressure and depression
There may be many reasons for the association between high blood pressure and low mood, but the most likely is that people who feel down tend not to look after themselves properly, or take their medication regularly, as prescribed. As a result, any pre-existing condition – including hypertension – is not optimally treated.
Another possibility is that having depression is associated with chemical imbalances in the central nervous system that cause blood pressure to rise, or that hypertension affects blood flow to the brain to lower mood.
Whatever the underlying cause, depression occurs at a higher rate in people with hypertension than in the normal population.
Treating depression improves hypertension
Treating depression can improve blood pressure control, and vice versa. One study found, for example, that blood pressure was significantly lower after three months in people who took both an antihypertensive medication (amlodipine, a calcium channel blocker) plus an antidepressant (citalopram) than those just taking the antihypertensive alone. The researchers highlighted the importance of raising awareness of the link between depression and high blood pressure, especially in older people, and considering the need for antidepressant therapy in those with hypertension.
If you feel low, it’s important to let your doctor know, and to continue taking your medication regularly, as prescribed.
The good news is that following the DASH diet to lower blood pressure also appears to have beneficial effects on mood. One study found that even moderate adherence to the DASH diet reduces the risk of depression by 24%.
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.
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