Psychological distress may predict hypertension

September 24, 2002

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of British Columbia reviewed the results of 15 studies published between 1972 and 2000 that assessed the link between psychological distress and hypertension development. The studies measured subjects' levels of anger, anxiety, depression, defensiveness, social support, hopelessness and other psychological factors, and then looked at whether the subjects later developed high blood pressure.

None of the subjects initially had hypertension, and each study followed the subjects for at least one year. Although the 15 studies' methods, populations, and definitions of hypertension varied widely, most of them found associations between psychological factors and blood pressure levels.

Looking at all of the studies, the researchers assert that the risk of developing hypertension was about 8 percent higher among people who had high psychological distress than among people who had low psychological distress.

"Given the prevalence, clinical repercussions, and medical costs associated with hypertension, a factor disposing a risk increase of this magnitude could be considered highly important to clinical health experts," write researchers Thomas Rutledge, Ph.D., formerly of the University of Pittsburgh and now at the University of California, San Diego, and Brenda E. Hogan, M.A., of the University of British Columbia. Their study is published in the September/October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

The researchers also suggest that the apparent association between anger, anxiety and depression and the risk of hypertension "compares favorably with better established predictors of hypertension such as obesity and physical activity." Therefore, more research into the relationship of psychological factors and hypertension development is warranted.

The 15 research studies reviewed for the analysis included between 78 and 4,650 subjects, most of whom were white and male. However, four studies reported separate results for African Americans. Like other subjects, African Americans with high psychological distress from depression, anxiety, and anger had a higher risk of developing hypertension.

The review study is the first major quantitative look at prospective research focusing on psychological predictors of high blood pressure.
Health Behavior News Service: (202) 387-2829 or
Interviews: Contact Dr. Thomas Rutledge at (858) 552-8585, ext. 7273, or
Psychosomatic Medicine: Contact Victoria White at (352) 376-1611, ext. 5300, or visit

Center for Advancing Health

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to