Anxiety and depression 'may cut blood pressure'

Anxiety and depression may reduce blood pressure in the long term, a major population-based study has found.

Norwegian researchers looked at data on 36,520 adults over an 11-year period and found that baseline anxiety and depression was significantly associated with reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Increasing ‘symptom load' of anxiety and depression was also associated with reduced diastolic and significantly reduced systolic blood pressure.

The authors suggest that anxiety and depression alter levels of neuropeptides, which can in turn suppress sympathetic activity and reduce blood pressure.

They admit that their findings conflict with received wisdom, but they point out that previous studies have been smaller and prone to selection bias.

Br J Psychiatry 2008;193:108-113

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