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What is the Connection Between Propranolol and Anxiety?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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Propranolol and anxiety are closely linked, as this medication blocks certain functions of the sympathetic nervous system associated with anxiety and stress. Regulators have approved this drug for the treatment of a variety of conditions, and a doctor may prescribe it for specific anxiety issues. It is not effective in the management of generalized anxiety, but can be useful for addressing anxiety in particular situations. The link between propranolol and anxiety has led the drug to be banned from some sporting events on the grounds that it might confer an unfair advantage.

This drug is a beta blocker. It reduces the blood flow, causing blood pressure to drop and usually slowing the heart rate as well. Doctors may prescribe propranolol for the treatment of hypertension. Tremors, migraines, and certain heart conditions can also be treated with propranolol. In the case of anxiety disorders, taking the drug before an anxiety-inducing event like public speaking can lower the heart rate, help the patient calm down, and eliminate shaking and tremors associated with anxiety.

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Doctors may take advantage of the connection between propranolol and anxiety to manage severe anxiety in a patient as part of an overall treatment plan. The goal is usually to address anxiety so the patient no longer needs medication, but sometimes taking drugs to blunt anxious responses can be helpful. Patients may complicate their anxiety disorders with fear about the anxiety itself, in addition to the situation, and taking medications to reach a more calm, focused state may help break the cycle of escalating anxiety before appearing in public or engaging in other activities.

Pregnant and breastfeeding patients should not use propranolol. This medication is also not safe for use in patients with certain other medical conditions. A doctor will review a patient's medical record carefully before prescribing this medication. The nature of connection between propranolol and anxiety is also important, as a patient will not experience benefits from the medication if the issue is generalized or vague anxiety, rather than situational anxiety.

A doctor discussing propranolol and anxiety with a patient will usually include a discussion of other treatment options and varying approaches to treatment plans. Patients can work with a variety of mental health professionals to treat anxiety, and may need to see several care providers to find one they feel comfortable with. Patients who don't experience positive outcomes for anxiety treatment may need to see a different care provider.

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bluedolphin
Post 3

@SarahGen-- I don't know about others, but propranolol has worked great for me. I have social anxiety so I have a lot of trouble being in public and particularly giving presentations and speaking in front of people. My doctor prescribed this medication for this reason.

I take propranolol before I have to be in the public eye. So if I have to give a presentation at school, I take it twenty minutes before. Propranolol helps me feel relaxed and keeps me from blushing, sweating and stuttering in front of people. I don't take it daily, only when I need it.

If you have the same issues, you should talk to your doctor about taking beta blockers for anxiety.

SarahGen
Post 2

How is propranolol for social anxiety? Does it work? Would I have to take it everyday or only when I'm feeling anxious?

bear78
Post 1

My mom is on propranolol for high blood pressure, but it's also helping with her situational anxiety.

My mom has a fear of getting sick, and whenever she gets sick, she becomes anxious and panicky that something bad is going to happen. Ever since she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and she started this medication though, she hasn't been getting anxious. It's like anti-anxiety medication, it's great.

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