Beta Blockers for Anxiety Benefits, Dangers, & Side Effects

Propranolol and other beta blockers for anxiety are thought to be non-addictive drugs, in contrast to other anxiety treatments. However, dependency can happen due to the soothing effects of these drugs that can lead you to misuse them. Continue reading for more information.

Beta blockers for anxiety can be beneficial even if the FDA hasn’t formally authorized them for the treatment of anxiety disorders. If other anxiety medications aren’t suitable, some doctors could use off-label beta blockers. However, using these medications without a doctor’s prescription is dangerous and can have adverse side effects. Treatment from a specialist is also critical for disorders including panic disorder, phobias, and PTSD.

An example of a beta blocker that is commonly prescribed for anxiety or stage fright is propranolol; it may relieve some symptoms of anxiety, such as tachycardia, sweating, and general tension. Also, certain beta blockers are explicitly used in inpatient units rather than for outpatient prescriptions. A well-known example is esmolol, typically used in the intensive care unit or a cardiac inpatient unit. [1]

Are Beta Blockers Addictive?

Substance use disorders are frequently comorbid with anxiety disorders. General population studies provide strong evidence of the frequency of the association for the most used substances: tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, and, to a lesser extent, sedatives, opiates, and cocaine. For substances that are less commonly used in the general population, the frequency of the co-occurrence can more precisely be studied in clinical samples.

Though the mainstay of medication treatment of anxiety disorders involves monoaminergic psychotropics, anxiolytics such as beta-blockers and benzodiazepines are also prescribed, including over-the-counter (OTC) meds. There is a shortage of evidence regarding the abuse of beta-blockers and its consequences, probably because they are not considered drugs with abuse potential. However, there are cases of propranolol abuse in patients with generalized anxiety disorder. [2]

Anxiety attacks are strongly connected with instances of substance abuse. Treating dual-diagnosis clients struggling with addiction and anxiety is a crucial part of the We Level Up Texas inpatient treatment. Reclaim your life today! Call us 24/7 for a free consultation.

Do Beta Blockers Help with Anxiety?

Beta-blockers, also known as beta-adrenoceptor antagonists, block the effects of adrenaline on beta receptors. This effect can also lessen anxiety symptoms. They reduce blood pressure, control heart rate, and are frequently used for cardiac diseases. They alleviate symptoms by changing the way the body reacts to anxiety.

Benefits of Beta Blockers for Anxiety

  • Reducing adrenaline effects.
  • Easing anxiety symptoms.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Regulating heart rate.
  • Potential treatment for PTSD and phobias (pending more research).

Beta Blockers for Anxiety Effectiveness

While the FDA hasn’t officially approved beta-blockers for anxiety, they can effectively reduce anxiety’s physical effects, like a fast heartbeat and tremors. However, they may not be as effective for psychological symptoms.

Beta-blockers provide a quick resort for anxiety relief, especially for short-term and acute situations. They can lower blood pressure and heart rate, offering physical symptom relief. They may be a suitable option for those who can’t tolerate the side effects of other anti-anxiety meds or have heart-related concerns. Additionally, beta-blockers can boost confidence by reducing tremors during public speaking. While other drugs like benzodiazepines and antidepressants treat anxiety, beta-blockers offer a faster solution without the risk of dependence or delayed onset.

Types of Beta Blockers

Many kinds of beta-blockers are available in the US. All beta-blockers work by altering the response of beta receptors to epinephrine. The two most popular distinct types are:

  • Nonselective beta-blockers. These medications block epinephrine from binding to beta receptors throughout the body (beta-1 and beta-2 adrenoceptors).
  • Selective beta-blockers. These drugs primarily prevent epinephrine from binding to beta receptors in the heart. They selectively target beta-1 receptors. At higher doses, they may become less selective and target beta-2 receptors.

Propranolol and other beta-blockers are thought to be non-addictive drugs, in contrast to other anxiety treatments. On the other hand, propranolol’s soothing effects might grow on you. You could be tempted to use propranolol to relieve your symptoms while you’re feeling stressed. The result might be drug dependency.

If you’re concerned that you could get reliant on your medicine, discuss this with your doctor. They could provide substitutes that suit you better.

If you’re struggling with anxiety and substance abuse, get resources about treatment counseling that works. Start getting support with a free call to our mental health and addiction hotline.

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Side Effects of Beta Blockers for Anxiety

Some patients report insomnia, sleep changes, and nightmares while using beta-blockers. This effect is more pronounced with beta-blockers that cross the blood-brain barrier. Some patients can experience fatigue or weight gain while on beta blockers. Managing these adverse events involves safely discontinuing the medication.

When a patient is admitted to an inpatient ward, monitoring the clinical effects and potential adverse effects is an interprofessional task. This is crucial because excessive medication levels can have severe or fatal consequences.

Other common side effects of beta blockers for anxiety are:

  • Fatigue.
  • Dizziness.
  • Cold hands or feet.
  • Upset stomach or nausea.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • Depression (rare).
  • Masking symptoms of low blood sugar.
  • Potential for worsening of asthma symptoms (in some cases).

How Long Do Beta Blockers Take to Work for Anxiety?

The best time to detect the effects is one to four hours after taking a dosage.

List of Natural Beta Blockers for Anxiety

In contrast to anxiolytic drugs, some herbs and nutrients can stimulate neurotransmitter synthesis and more naturally affect and even adjust brain chemistry without many of the side effects experienced with drugs.

Natural beta blockers include:

  • Foods rich in potassium (e.g., bananas, oranges).
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and flaxseeds).
  • Magnesium-rich foods (e.g., spinach, almonds).
  • Herbs like valerian root and passionflower.
  • Deep-breathing exercises.
  • Yoga and meditation.
  • Green tea.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Hawthorn extract.
  • Rhodiola rosea.

Over-the-Counter Beta Blockers for Anxiety

Beta-blockers are prescription-only medicines. This means they can only be prescribed by a doctor or a qualified healthcare professional.

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Beta blockers for anxiety are not known to be habit-forming. However, the risks of being dependent on their soothing effects can lead you to misuse them.
Beta blockers for anxiety are not known to be habit-forming. However, the risks of being dependent on their soothing effects can lead you to misuse them.

Treating Both Anxiety and Addiction

Anxiety, addiction, and other illnesses often co-occur. For example, illicit drug abuse and even overconsumption of caffeine or lifestyle choices can lead to anxiety. Hospitalization due to a diagnosis of a severe illness such as HIV/AIDS and cancer can increase the risk for anxiety. Moreover, often, the stress and discomfort associated with the treatments that go along with these illnesses increase the risk for anxiety. Anxiety is also closely related to other mental health conditions, especially depression.

The root cause of substance abuse or alcoholism may have come about as a response to a mental health problem, such as anxiety. Without accurate diagnosis, many seek to control their conditions by self-medicating, using alcohol or tranquilizers for anxiety, amphetamines or cocaine for depression, etc.—and the short-term comfort or distraction makes the experiment look like a recovery. Self-medication can be repetitive, and the repetition can then lead to dependency, and an addiction can develop.

Furthermore, an individual relatively free from psychiatric illnesses can experiment with drugs and continue past “recreational use” to drug dependence. Then, a secondary mental disorder, such as anxiety, can emerge.

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We Level Up Texas Dual Diagnosis Rehab Center for Anxiety and Addiction

The We Level Up Texas rehab professionals believe that if the patient can determine the underlying problem and treat it simultaneously with their addiction, the patient’s chances of a successful, relapse-free healing are much improved. Once we can recognize and adequately start treating the co-occurring issues with the dependency on alcohol or other drugs, individuals will be closer to long-term sobriety.

At We Level Up Texas rehab center, we do not believe that long-term healing comes in a one-size-fits-all program. Upon arrival at our dual diagnosis treatment center, each client will undergo a comprehensive physical and psychological assessment with our physicians, mental health specialists, health advisers, and nutritionists. Together, we will determine the client’s underlying issues, including anxiety disorders, so that we can plan an individualized approach and, when applicable, provide integrated dual diagnosis treatment. The symptoms of the multiple disorders that can occur alongside addiction can present complex and similar symptoms. Accurate diagnosis requires a highly trained professional team with years of experience.

Only a medical professional with the required training and experience can identify anxiety disorders and determine if beta blockers for anxiety are suitable options for you. Contact We Level Up Texas dual diagnosis rehab to get support now.
Only a medical professional with the required training and experience can identify anxiety disorders and determine if beta blockers for anxiety are suitable options for you. Contact We Level Up Texas dual diagnosis rehab to get support now.

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Search We Level Up Texas Beta Blockers for Anxiety, Detox Topics, and Resources
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