What Are Anxiety Medications And How Do They Work
Anxiety is a normal and useful response to potentially stressful or dangerous situations. It increases our awareness of whats going on around us. For most people, anxiety is short-lived and normally goes away once the situation has passed. This is not the case for an estimated 40 million adults in the United States who have some type of anxiety disorder and experience ongoing and unwarranted psychological distress. That distress may also manifest itself in physical symptoms such as muscletension, headaches, or chest pain.
Anxiety medications include multiple types of drugs that are used to treat the symptoms of anxiety disorders. The three most commonly prescribed types of anxiety medication are
- anti-anxiety medications , and
Antidepressants and anxiolytic medications work primarily by affecting the balance of certain chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters. Beta-blockers and other types of drugs are used to address the physical symptoms that may accompany an anxiety attack. First-generation antihistamines are also used to help with anxiety symptoms because they have a sedating effect.
Anxiety disorders are associated with certain chemical imbalances in the brain involving neurotransmitters such as
- norepinephrine, and
- gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA.
These chemicals are associated with an individuals sense of well-being or with the ability to relax.
Are There Any Downsides To Taking Metoprolol For Performance Anxiety
Most of the anecdotal stories on performers and beta-blockers suggest that the benefits of drugs like Lopressor outweigh any potential downsides. The vast majority of performers seem to find that beta-blockers positively affect their careers and lives. And theyre considered to be generally safe for most people.
But beta-blockers do have certain limitations when it comes to dealing with stage fright.
1. Metoprolol will always be a temporary solution for stage fright
When you take beta-blockers, youre not doing anything to address the root causes of your performance anxiety. Youre applying a quick-fix to stop the physical symptoms.
Thats not to say beta-blockers dont work, because they can. But if youre only relying on beta-blockers, youll most likely have to keep taking them every time you need to perform under pressure.
2. You will need a prescription for Lopressor
In the United States, you need a prescription for Lopressor. So, you may need to go visit your doctor every time you run out, which can become an inconvenience if you use the drug frequently.
3. In rare cases, beta-blockers may cause dependency
This is most likely not a concern for most people who only take beta-blockers occasionally for performance anxiety. But if you make it a habit of taking Metoprolol frequently, then you shouldnt stop it all of a sudden.
How Should I Take Propranolol For Anxiety
The directions for taking propranolol for anxiety can vary depending on the reason you are taking it. Some people take propranolol to prevent symptoms during certain events, such as public speaking. In those instances, propranolol is typically taken 30 minutes to 1 hour before the event. In other cases, patients need help managing symptoms throughout the day. These patients might benefit from a scheduled dosing regimen this means they take the medication every single day no matter if they anticipate an anxiety-inducing event or not.
Propranolol For Anxiety: Can Beta
For these people, the normal feelings of anxietyphysical and emotional reactions to stressful, dangerous, or intense circumstancesdont just pass away normally.
People suffering from anxiety disorders can often experience these stress responses long after the stressful situation ends, and sometimes have these anxiety symptoms even when there isnt a stressful situation at all.
These symptoms interfere with their relationships, work, and daily life and activities.
Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
But not all anxiety is the same. Some people experience anxiety only in specific stressful situations, or have a dramatic physical response to stressful eventssymptoms like sweating, flushing, a racing heart, nausea, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
For patients with these symptoms who suffer from performance anxiety, stage fright when public speaking, or other specific social phobias, healthcare professionals will sometimes prescribe propranolol off-label.
Propranolol is a beta-blocker most often used to treat heart conditions like irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure.
How Does Propranolol Treat Performance Anxiety
First off, its important to understand that propranolol technically isnt an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax or Zoloft .
These drugs work by targeting specific parts of your brain and central nervous system, causing you to feel relaxed and calm. Although the specifics are complicated, they essentially work by stopping you from feeling the physical and psychological effects of anxiety.
Medications like Xanax and Zoloft usually treat long-term, persistent anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder . While Zoloft is needed on a daily basis to see results, Xanax, like propranolol, is taken on an as-needed basis for performance anxiety symptoms.
On the other hand, propranolol works by specifically targeting receptors in your body to block the action of stress hormones that cause the physical effects of anxiety.
Its prescribed off-label as a treatment for specific types of anxiety that occur in certain situations, such as social anxiety or performance anxiety, according to the same article published in the Journal of Pharmapsychology.
Social anxiety usually occurs when youre around other people. Many people feel anxiety about being judged by others or by doing or saying something embarrassing in a social environment.
Performance anxiety is a type of anxiety that can occur when youre required to perform in front of others. You may have also heard it called stage fright.
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More Common Side Effects
The more common side effects of propranolol can include:
- slower heart rate
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we can not guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
When To Call The Doctor
All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:
- your age
- how severe your condition is
- other medical conditions you have
- how you react to the first dose
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What If I Forget To Take It
If you miss a dose, take your metoprolol as soon as you remember, unless it’s nearly time for your next dose.
In this case, just leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as normal.
Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.
If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you.
You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
Beta Blockers Are Not Approved For Anxiety Reduction
Maybe the most important reason to avoid beta blockers is that they’re not technically approved for anxiolytic use. Doctors prescribe these medicines “off-label” – meaning that they aren’t approved for use but are used anyway.
Off-label use is not uncommon for medications – not even medications for anxiety. What makes beta-blockers unique is that not only are they used off-label but doctors aren’t even sure why beta blockers reduce anxiety. Their mechanism is only partially known. Beta blockers lower heart rate and reduce norepinephrine, which can spike when a person has anxiety. This then controls the symptoms of anxiety. What is not entirely clear is whether or not beta blockers control any mental symptoms of anxiety. Doctors and patients sometimes find that people taking beta blockers seem to experience reduced anxiety, but it is not clear if any emotional symptoms are due to the beta blockers themselves, or just a reaction to weaker physical symptoms.
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Brand And Generic Names
Propranolol has been around for a long time and is available as a tablet, capsule, liquid, long-acting capsules, and injectable forms. It is currently available as a generic medication in the form of propranolol hydrochloride. There are also different brand names available. Inderal is the brand name of the short-acting version of propranolol. Inderal LA, Inderal XL, and InnoPran XL are brand names for the longer-acting versions of propranolol. Hemangeol is the liquid form of propranolol.
How And When To Take It
Metoprolol comes as 2 different types of tablet: standard release and slow release.
Slow release is also called sustained release :
- standard release releases metoprolol into your body quickly
- slow release dissolves slowly so you don’t have to take it as often
Your doctor may advise you to take your first dose before bedtime because it could make you feel dizzy.
If you do not feel dizzy after the first dose, take metoprolol in the morning.
If you have metoprolol more than once a day, try to space the doses evenly throughout the day.
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Is It Safe To Take Propranolol With Alcohol
Propranolol should not be used with alcohol. One study published by the NIH found that consuming alcohol while youre under the effects of propranolol can increase the chance of low blood pressure, causing you to feel lightheaded and sleepy. Additionally, the FDA recommends not mixing alcohol and propranolol.
Drugs To Treat Anxiety Disorder
Xanax has boxed warnings. These are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration . Boxed warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.
Using benzodiazepines, even as prescribed, can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal if you stop taking the drug suddenly. Withdrawal can be life threatening.
Using benzodiazepines can also lead to misuse and addiction. Misuse of benzodiazepines increases your risk of overdose and death.
Only take these drugs as your doctor prescribes. Talk with your healthcare professional if you have any concerns about safely taking a benzodiazepine.
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What Happens If I Overdose
If you overdose on propranolol you should seek emergency care as soon as possible. The poison control center can also give you advice on what to do if you are unable to seek emergency care right away.
If you have taken too much propranolol, you might experience a slow heart rate or abnormal heart rate. You might also feel lightheaded or dizzy, or you could faint.
Can Beta Blockers Help With Anxiety
In March of 2020, I had an appointment with my primary care physician. I explained to her that, even though I was on Lexapro, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor , for anxiety and depression, I still felt overwhelmed sometimes. By 5 p.m. every day, when the kids were home, hungry, and wanting attention, I felt a rising panic in my chest. Id sweat and sometimes feel dizzy. Sometimes Id snap at my children, or I would need to take a break somewhere quiet, away from others. Last Thanksgiving, Id been preparing and cooking for two days, only to spend most of the meal in my bedroom. I told my healthcare provider I wanted to be able to handle the inevitable stressors in my life without feeling like I was drowning.
My doctor told me I was having a flight response and my physical symptoms indicated anxiety attacks. She prescribed me propranolol, a beta blocker, for anxiety. This type of medication is typically used for blood pressure control and heart conditions. I didnt have a history of high blood pressure or cardiac problems, but she told me taking a small dose of this Rx is a good way to deal with sometimes anxiety. As someone who is generally pretty sensitive to medication, I didnt want to take something stronger or possibly addicting. I decided to give it a try.
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Rated For Supraventricular Tachycardia Report
FRIGHTENING! I was prescribed this medication 12.5 mg per day for elevated blood pressure and heart rate. The first day was great, it relieved a pressure headache I had been experiencing a while and lowered Bp and pulse. Then I started to feel like I had caught a virus. I was so weak, could not get out of bed, random abdominal pains and I horrible rush of anxiety and feeling of doom and gloom. Then my heart rate started to increase with heaviness in my chest and chest pains. I ended up in the ER two times with heart attack symptoms! The ER doctor wanted to up my dose of this medication but by the second visit I realized it was this medicine causing these chest pains. I switched to propranolol which has my pulse and BP under control. The effects of Metropolol are slowly leaving my body but even 8 days later I still dont feel completely right. I never leave reviews but this experience was so upsetting that I hoped sharing it may help someone else.
Does Bystolic Affect Sleep
People who take beta-blockers can have less melatonin than needed, therefore making it difficult to sleep. This is because beta-blockers decrease the amount of melatonin your brain produces. If youre experiencing sleep problems as a result of taking Bystolic, talk to your doctor about other options.
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Rated For Hypertension Report
i have lot of side effects while taking this medicine like extreme dizziness, tiredness, laziness even on very small dose of 12.5mg per day. I am worried that I have stopped this medicine 20 days ago on doctors suggestion but still have dizziness all the time. My blood pressure and heart rate are normal though. Not sure why?
Medications That Make You Sensitive To The Heat
Summer is in full swingand theres another heat wave slamming your area. Youre ready to hit the beach to cool off. As long as you remember to reapply sunscreen and stay hydrated, youre enjoying the hot temperatures safelyright? Not so fast! If you take any daily pillsprescription or over-the-countercheck with your pharmacist first. Certain medications
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