Can anxiety cause high blood pressure?

Answer From Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D.

Anxiety doesn't cause long-term high blood pressure (hypertension). But episodes of anxiety can cause dramatic, temporary spikes in blood pressure.

If those temporary spikes occur frequently, such as every day, they can cause damage to blood vessels, the heart and kidneys, as can chronic high blood pressure. In addition, people who are anxious or stressed are more likely to engage in unhealthy habits that can raise blood pressure, such as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Overeating

Some medications to treat anxiety and other mental health conditions also can increase blood pressure. These medications include serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

If you have trouble controlling your anxiety or if anxiety interferes with daily activities, talk to a health care or mental health provider to find an appropriate treatment.

March 08, 2022