What is Propranolol?
Propranolol is a prescription medication used for a wide range of conditions from high blood pressure to performance anxiety.
How Propranolol works
Propranolol is a beta-blocker. Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of adrenaline on organs such as the heart, lungs and blood vessels and may also block nerve impulses to muscle.
Adrenaline causes the heart to beat faster and more forcefully, and also constricts the arteries. A beta blocker such as propranolol can cause the heart to slow down and beat less forcefully and arteries to widen or dilate. This in turn can reduce the symptoms of anxiety such as chest pain or palpitations and alleviate sweating as well.
It is not clear how Propranolol reduces tremors and shaking, although it is speculated that it may reduce nerve impulses to the muscles.
Propranolol is used to treat a range of conditions including high blood pressure, migraines, and anxiety. Propranolol is used for a specific type of anxiety, known as ‘performance anxiety’, which includes exam nerves, a fear of public speaking (glossophobia), and other stressful situations.
How Propranolol helps anxiety
When using Propranolol for anxiety, it blocks the effects of adrenaline on the beta receptors in your heart. When you get anxious, your body releases epinephrine. This gives you the physical symptoms of anxiety such as a pounding heart rate, nervous trembling, and a shaking voice. Therefore, Propranolol can be a useful way to combat the physical symptoms of anxiety. However, Propranolol does not directly help the psychological symptoms of anxiety. Although, many people find that without the physical symptoms of anxiety, they can cope with the psychological symptoms more easily.
How quickly does Propranolol work for anxiety?
Propranolol takes approximately 30-60 minutes to have a noticeable effect on anxiety. For general anxiety, Propranolol is usually taken every day, but some people choose to take Propranolol for a one-off event such as a public-speaking arrangement. In this situation, Propranolol may be taken around 1 hour, before the event.
How long does Propranolol last for performance anxiety?
For anxiety, 40mg Propranolol is usually taken once a day (the dose may be increased up to three times daily in some cases). The half-life of Propranolol is 3-6 hours. This means that within 3-6 hours, the amount of Propranolol remaining in your system will be halved. Therefore, you can expect the effects of Propranolol to last for approximately 3-6 hours.
Is Propranolol safe for anxiety?
Propranolol is an off-label treatment for anxiety. This means that it has not been FDA-approved for anxiety treatment, but it can still be prescribed safely and effectively. Your doctor will evaluate the risks and benefits of using Propranolol for anxiety and it will only be prescribed if it is considered safe and likely to be effective.
Propranolol and anxiety types
Propranolol can be used for several different types of anxiety. It is usually prescribed for a general feeling of anxiety with physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, shaking, and sweating. In this way, Propranolol can help people to carry on with their day-to-day lives if they are suffering from high anxiety levels.
Propranolol for PTSD
Propranolol can also be used for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Propranolol can help people with PTSD avoid the physical symptoms of anxiety. This can help people better engage in psychotherapy and may also reduce flashbacks in some people. It has been suggested that Propranolol may also help reduce traumatic memories, but this has not yet been confirmed.
Propranolol for public speaking
Propranolol is a popular medication used for glossophobia - the fear of public speaking. Public speaking can cause high levels of anxiety. Tremors, shaking and a rapid heart rate can produce a trembling voice, which often makes the anxiety levels worse. Taking a one-off dose of Propranolol about one hour before the event can help to alleviate the physical symptoms of anxiety, and help you with your speech.