Depression and high blood pressure treatments may be linked

October 12, 2016 Providence Health Team

Scottish researchers say they have found drugs commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure may also raise or lower the risk of mood disorders, such as depression.

In an examination of hospital records for more than 525,000 patients, they found patients who were given two kinds of drugs – beta-blockers and calcium antagonists – were more likely to be admitted later for treatment for a mood disorder. The study found patients whose hypertension was treated with drugs known as angiotensin antagonists were less likely to have a mood disorder.

A fourth class of drugs, called thiazide diuretics, had no effect on the rate of hospitalization for mood disorders, researchers said.

The results suggest that hypertension and mood disorders share some common biological networks.

“The possible impact of antihypertensive drugs on mental health is an area that physicians should be aware of and consider if the treatment of high blood pressure is having a negative impact on their patient’s mental health,” said Sandosh Padmanabhan, M.D., author of the study and a professor at the University of Glasgow.

He noted that caregivers who treat patients for high blood pressure often don’t consider a patient’s mental health. He also called for further research involving a broader population of patients.

Treating hypertension

About 1 in 3 U.S. adults, or 70 million people, have high blood pressure, and only about half of them have the condition under control, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s troubling, because hypertension increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The CDC encourages people with high blood pressure to:

  • Work with their health care provider to set a course of treatment, which may include medications.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Be active. The CDC suggests taking a brisk 10-minute walk three times a day, five days a week.
  • Don’t smoke.

What the drugs do

The four categories of blood pressure drugs examined in the Scottish study, along with some of their brand names, are:

  1. Angiotensin II antagonists – These block the chemical in your body that restricts your blood vessels. In other words, taking an angiotensin antagonist relaxes your blood vessels. The drug is marketed as Cozaar, Diovan, Micardis and Avapro, among other brand names. These are the drugs that seemed to show a reduction in mood disorders.
  2. Beta blockers – This class of drugs slows the heart, reducing stress on the cardiovascular system. They are marketed as Kerlone, Lopressor, Levatol and Betapace, among other names.
  3. Calcium antagonists – These drugs interfere with the movement of calcium through the body. They may be marketed as Azelnidipine, Clevidipine, Nilvadipine, Pranidipine or another brand name.
  4. Thiazide diuretics – These drugs help your body eliminate water while dilating blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure. Brand names include Lozol, Diuril, Enduron, Naturetin and others.

For further reading

You can read about the Scottish study at the American Heart Association website.

For information about high blood pressure, or hypertension, see the resource page from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It discusses risk factors, prevention and treatments.

The CDC also devotes considerable attention to mental health, including such mood disorders as depression, on its Mental Health Overview page.

Talk to your health care provider if you have any concerns about a possible link between treatment for high blood pressure and depression. To find a Providence provider, consult our directory.

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