Can this heart medication treat anxiety symptoms?

Propranolol is a medication that was designed to treat high blood pressure, some heart conditions, tremors, and migraines. It’s usually taken by mouth, as a tablet, capsule or liquid.

This post will explain a bit about how propranolol works and why some healthcare professionals use it to treat anxiety symptoms.

Note: This information is not medical advice. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before starting a treatment or making changes to your treatment plan.

What kind of drug is propranolol?

Propranolol is a type of drug known as a beta blocker. It stops certain proteins in the body called beta receptors from working. Propranolol is sold under the brand names Hemangeol, Hemangiol, Inderal, and Innopran.

Propranolol isn’t officially approved by the FDA to be prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and their symptoms. However, because there is a lot of evidence for propranolol as an effective medication for anxiety symptoms, clinicians can choose to prescribe it for their patients if they believe it is the right medication for them.

What are beta receptors?

Beta receptors are found in the heart and lungs. They are activated by chemicals in the body called norepinephrine and epinephrine (also known as noradrenaline and adrenaline). When these chemicals activate the beta receptors, the heart beats harder and faster.

These chemicals also bring on other responses such as sweating, tremors, fast breathing, and heart palpitations (the awareness that your heart is beating).

How does a beta blocker work to reduce anxiety symptoms?

Several effects induced by norepinephrine and epinephrine – increased heart rate, tremors, sweating and palpitations – are also physical symptoms of anxiety.

By limiting the activation of beta receptors, propranolol blocks the effects in the body that lead to the development of these symptoms.

In particular, propranolol appears to be effective at treating episodic attacks of anxiety, such as those which occur in people with social anxiety, performance anxiety, and panic attacks or panic disorder.

It’s important to note that beta blockers like propranolol won’t treat or cure the anxiety itself, but can reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety that might affect how a person with anxiety feels or functions.

We hope this information helps you better understand why propranolol might work to treat anxiety symptoms. If you think someone you know could benefit from reading this post, please share it with them. We’d love for our resources to reach those who need them.


Propranolol (1) (2)

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Olivia Holland
Medical Writer