Can depression cause low blood pressure

Can Depression Cause Low Blood Pressure

Writen By: Faiza Saifur
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: September 17, 2023

A fascinating question that caught the attention of researchers and doctors was: Can depression cause low blood pressure?. This investigation leads us to wonder if the emotional weight of depression could actually affect our physical health.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people worldwide experience depression, and it’s a leading cause of disability. On the other hand, low blood pressure, often not talked about as much as high blood pressure, affects a significant number of people. Even though they might seem different, these conditions could have a hidden link that changes how we think about how our bodies react to tough emotions.

So, here’s the emerging question: Can depression cause low blood pressure? Recent studies suggest there’s a complex relationship between how we feel and how our body works. Depression comes with many different signs, like changes in how we think and feel, as well as physical symptoms. It might also affect how our body controls blood pressure. This idea is based on the way our body’s automatic systems, like heart rate and blood pressure, are controlled. 

Stress, which plays a big role in depression, could lead to changes that lower blood pressure. As we go on this journey, we’ll learn more about how this might happen, see real examples, and figure out: can depression cause low blood pressure?

Understanding low blood pressure

Low blood pressure, or hypotension, occurs when the force of blood flowing through the arteries is too weak.

Typically, it’s when the top number (systolic) is below 90 mm Hg or the bottom number (diastolic) is below 60 mm Hg, although the exact values may vary depending on the individual and their health.

Here are some signs that someone might have low blood pressure:

  • Blurry vision.
  • Feeling confused.
  • Getting dizzy.
  • Fainting.
  • Feeling like your head is light.
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up.
  • Feeling really tired.
  • Feeling weak.

Blood pressure plays a crucial role in maintaining proper circulation and overall health. It represents the force with which blood is pumped by the heart and pushed through the arteries to reach every part of the body. This force ensures that oxygen and vital nutrients are delivered to tissues and organs. 

Proper blood pressure helps maintain healthy blood flow, which is essential for cell function and overall well-being. When blood pressure is too high (hypertension) or too low (hypotension), it can strain the heart and lead to various health issues, including heart disease, stroke, or organ damage. 

Therefore, maintaining a healthy blood pressure range is essential for optimal circulation and overall health. 

Signs and symptoms of depression

Common signs and symptoms of depression are presented in short bullet points:

  • Persistent sadness.
  • Lack of interest in activities.
  • Changes in appetite or weight.
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Memory loss.
  • Irritability or restlessness.
  • Physical aches and head aches.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

Can depression cause low blood pressure?

For a long time, having low blood pressure was seen as a good thing for your health. However, new research has shown that there might be a connection between low blood pressure and depression, especially in older adults.

The goal of this study was to find out “Can depression cause low blood pressure?”.

As part of a health study, 60,799 men and women between the ages of 20 and 89 completed a questionnaire called the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. This questionnaire helps understand if they were feeling anxious or depressed. The researchers also divided their blood pressure measurements into groups based on their age and gender to study them better.

There are two groups of people: one with blood pressure in the normal range and another with very low blood pressure. 

1. Anxiety: People in the low blood pressure group were about 31% more likely to feel anxious compared to the ones with normal blood pressure. 

2. Depression: Those with low blood pressure were around 22% more likely to feel depressed. 

3. Anxiety and Depression Together: If someone in the low blood pressure group felt both anxious and depressed, their chances were about 44% higher.

The same kind of link was seen for both men and women and across different ages.

This research provides the answer to the question, Can depression cause low blood pressure?. And this doesn’t seem to be because of heart-related issues. In simpler terms, it suggests that low blood pressure could be connected to feeling anxious or depressed, and it’s not just because of problems with the heart.

Factors associated with depression that cause low blood pressure

Depression can be associated with several factors that contribute to low blood pressure (hypotension):

  • Depression often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or excessive sleep. This sleep disturbance can affect the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure, potentially leading to low BP.
  • Depressive symptoms can lead to changes in appetite, including reduced food intake. Poor nutrition resulting from these changes can contribute to low blood pressure.
  • Depression can impact the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions like heart rate and blood pressure. Imbalances in this system may lead to blood pressure irregularities, including hypotension.
  • Chronic stress, which is often associated with depression, can lead to the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels can affect blood vessel function and contribute to low BP.
  • Depression may alter blood vessel function, reducing their ability to constrict or dilate appropriately, which can affect blood pressure regulation.
  • Ironically, some antidepressant medications, especially when first starting treatment, can cause a drop in blood pressure as a side effect. This can contribute to hypotension, but it’s crucial to work closely with a healthcare provider to monitor and adjust medications as needed.
  • Depression can lead to a lack of motivation for self-care activities, including maintaining proper hydration. Dehydration can result in low blood pressure.
  • Depressed individuals may become less physically active, which can lead to deconditioning of the cardiovascular system and lower overall blood pressure.
  • Depression can cause significant weight fluctuations, with some individuals experiencing weight loss. This can result in decreased blood volume and contribute to hypotension.
  • Depression can disrupt the body’s stress response mechanisms, potentially leading to fluctuations in blood pressure, including drops in BP during periods of increased stress.
  • Depression often coexists with other health conditions, such as chronic pain or autoimmune disorders, which can have their own effects on blood pressure.
  • Prolonged inactivity and muscle weakness associated with depression can affect circulation and blood pressure regulation.

Can low blood pressure make you depressed?

People with low blood pressure might experience various health issues that are symptoms of depression, from tiredness to emotional and cognitive problems. A study was performed to find out if low blood pressure is connected to thoughts of suicide in the general population.

Information from a Korean health survey  was used. Among 23,163 participants, 10,708 with normal or low blood pressure were studied. 

They looked at different levels of low blood pressure and their link to suicidal thoughts. They also checked if prehypertension or high blood pressure had any connection to suicidal thoughts. They asked people about their thoughts of suicide using a questionnaire.

Compared to people with normal blood pressure, those with lower blood pressure had higher chances of having suicidal thoughts. This was true even when they considered other factors like age, gender, and health conditions. Even when they added things like diabetes, stroke, heart problems, and depression to the analysis, the connection between low blood pressure and suicidal thoughts remained.

The study found that low blood pressure, especially when it’s quite low, is connected to thoughts of suicide in the general population in Korea. As blood pressure gets lower, the connection to suicidal thoughts becomes stronger. Suicidal thoughts, the most prominent symptom of depression, are caused by low blood pressure, which proves low BP can make you feel depressed.

Causes of low blood pressure other than depression

Low blood pressure (hypotension) can result from various factors and conditions other than depression. Here’s a brief explanation of some common causes:

Dehydration:

When your body doesn’t have enough fluid, it reduces the volume of blood, leading to lower blood pressure.

Certain Medications:

Some drugs, like antihypertensives (blood pressure-lowering medications) or diuretics (water pills), can cause blood pressure to drop.

Heart Conditions:

Conditions like bradycardia (slow heart rate) or problems with the heart valves can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, leading to low blood pressure.

Endocrine Issues:

Disorders of the endocrine system, such as thyroid problems or adrenal insufficiency, can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance and impact blood pressure regulation.

Anemia:

Anemia, characterized by a decrease in red blood cells, can reduce the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity, potentially leading to low blood pressure.

Pregnancy:

During pregnancy, blood pressure can naturally decrease, especially in the early stages.

Severe Infections:

Conditions like sepsis or other severe infections can lead to low blood pressure due to the body’s response to inflammation and infection.

Neurological Conditions:

Certain neurological disorders may affect the autonomic nervous system, which controls blood pressure regulation.

Coping strategies for low blood pressure and depression

Yoga to avoid low blood pressure

Practicing simple yoga poses for just a few minutes every day can help balance your body. Here are some recommended yoga poses for people with low blood pressure:

1. Uttanasana:

This pose improves blood flow to the brain, reducing feelings of tiredness and dizziness.

2. Matsyasana:

Stretching your neck and back muscles with this pose promotes even blood circulation and helps control blood pressure fluctuations.

3. Pawanmuktasana:

This pose boosts blood circulation and eases tension in the lower back.

4. Sarvangasana:

By enhancing blood flow to the brain, this pose minimizes dizziness and fatigue.

5. Shishuasana:

Stress and fatigue are eased, and the mind is soothed with this pose.

6. Adho Mukha Svanasana:

This pose calms the brain and relieves fatigue.

Besides these poses, activities like swimming or recumbent bicycling can also be helpful for low blood pressure. Also, doing some simple warm-up exercises before your workout can prepare your body well.

Exercise

Exercise brings significant benefits for individuals dealing with low blood pressure. By enhancing blood circulation, exercise effectively treats hypotension. 

Additionally, regular physical activity contributes to maintaining a healthy weight, which is a powerful strategy for elevating low blood pressure levels. 

Scientifically, shedding as little as 2.3 kilograms can have a positive impact on blood pressure regulation. Embracing low-intensity activities such as brisk walking can play a crucial role in improving low blood pressure, as a sedentary lifestyle often leads to chronic health issues and irregular blood pressure patterns. 

Moreover, engaging in physical activities, including exercises and yoga, reinforces the muscles of the heart, facilitating more efficient blood pumping and thereby aiding in raising low blood pressure levels. While the discussed exercises offer notable benefits, it’s equally important to be aware of exercises to avoid to prevent any potential adverse effects. 

Exercises to avoid if you have low blood pressure

Individuals with low blood pressure can generally engage in a wide range of exercises and physical activities, but they should prioritize avoiding excessive strain. Here are exercises that should be avoided by those with low blood pressure:

1. Heavy Cycling

2. Zumba.

3. Jump Squats.

4. Exercise Sets Combining Sit-ups, Push-ups, and lunges

5. Walking When Experiencing Dizziness or Postural hypotension

While exercise can be beneficial for low blood pressure, it’s crucial to listen to your body and avoid activities that might lead to overexertion.   

Coping tips for depression

  • Stay connected with loved ones.
  • Seek help from mental health professionals.
  • Take care of your physical health with sleep, diet, and exercise.
  • Engage in activities you enjoy, even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Set and achieve small goals.
  • Challenge negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
  • Manage stress and avoid overwhelming situations.
  • Express yourself through writing, art, or hobbies.
  • Limit alcohol and drug use.
  • Reach out to trusted friends and family for support.

Conclusion! 

In a nutshell, we’ve explored the question, Can depression cause low blood pressure? from different angles. It turns out that these two things are connected, especially in older adults. Learning about this connection helps us understand more about how our bodies and feelings work together.

Studies showed that people with low blood pressure might be more likely to feel anxious, sad, or even have thoughts about suicide. This doesn’t mean low blood pressure is causing these feelings, but there seems to be a connection.

The good news is that there are things we can do to help ourselves. Simple yoga poses and exercises can make our bodies and minds feel better. They can improve blood flow, make us feel relaxed, and even strengthen our hearts. But remember, it’s important to do the right exercises and talk to a doctor if you’re not sure.

In the end, understanding the link between depression, our body, and exercise can guide us towards a healthier and happier life.