Classified as a beta-blocker, propranolol is sold under the brand name Inderal. When it is sold under the trade name Inderide, it contains the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide. Propranolol is also available in a variety of generic forms.
Propranolol for Anxiety
Propranolol is sometimes used to treat medicine-induced dystonia, which is a condition where the patient suffers from involuntary muscle movements. Medicine-induced dystonia is a common side effect of antipsychotic medications. Beta-blockers like propranolol are useful for treating specific types of anxiety.
When propranolol is used for specific situations that involve anxiety triggered by a performance situation, it works well. It decreases anxiety symptoms like profuse sweating and tension. People who suffer from stage fright and fear of public speaking have found propranolol very useful. With so few side effects, propranolol is a wonderful choice for people in these situations.
Symptoms of social anxiety are usually too strong for beta-blockers like propranolol. While the beta-blocker will help, it won’t be quite enough to control the anxiety.
As these medications are known to lower blood pressure, people with low blood pressure or any heart conditions should not take them. Propranolol is also not recommended for people suffering from asthma or any other respiratory disorder.
Possible Side Effects
Propranolol has almost no side effects when taken on an as needed basis to treat performance anxiety. Some side effects that patients might experience include dizziness, sleepiness, short-term memory loss, slow pulse, lethargy, insomnia, cold extremities like hands and feet, numbness/tingling in fingers and toes.
The average dose is 20 to 40 mg to be taken one hour before an anxiety-producing situation. It an also be combined with imipramine or alprazolam without any adverse effects from interactions.
More Precautions with Propranolol for Anxiety
Things that need to be considered when taking propranolol:
- Angina can be made worse and possibly trigger a heart attack if it is stopped suddenly.
- Never discontinue propranolol without consulting your doctor first, as your doctor will help you discontinue use if it is necessary.
- In cases of bronchospastic lung disease, beta-blockers should be used with extreme caution.
- Propranolol can cause low blood sugar, which can be lowered substantially after intense exercise.
- In cases of liver or kidney conditions, doctors will be cautious when prescribing propranolol.
- This medication might interfere with glaucoma screening tests.
- A history of anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction, to any kind of beta-blocker.
Pregnancy and Propranolol
The FDA has classified propranolol as a pregnancy category C, meaning that adverse effects have been documented on developing babies in animal studies. No meaningful tests have been completed in people.
In some cases, the benefits outweigh the risk. Discuss the risks with your doctor, and keep in mind that propranolol is excreted in breast milk, and breastfeeding mothers should use propranolol with care.
Call your doctor immediately or go to an emergency room if you suspect overdose. Symptoms include weakness, fainting or irregular heartbeat.
Missed Dose of Propranolol for Anxiety
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you are able. If it is almost time for your next does, skip the missed dose and resume your normal schedule. Do not take a double dose to compensate for the missed dose.
Withdrawing from Propranolol for Anxiety
This is a medication that needs to be tapered to a lower dose before it is discontinued entirely. A sudden discontinuation of propranolol can trigger chest pains, irregular heartbeat and heart attack. Tapering off the medicine when discontinuing will reduce the symptoms.
Contact your doctor immediately if you notice:
- Heart palpitations/irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain