- Anxiety Atenolol
- Beta Blockers and Anxiety – What to Know
- Do Beta Blockers Work?
- How Beta Blockers Work
- Beta Blockers Are Not Approved for Anxiety Reduction
- Medicine as a Treatment
- Side Effects of Beta Blockers
- How Beta Blockers Increase Anxiety
- Alternative Treatments to Beta Blockers
- How Effective is Atenolol for Anxiety?
For sufferers of anxiety atenolol comes in tablet form. They may be taken with or without food and should be taken according to the directions on the prescription label. Atenolol tablets belong to a class of medicines known as beta blockers. Beta blockers are used to treat palpitations, sweating and tremors. They are also prescribed for those who suffer from social anxiety, anxiety and social phobias. Beta blockers have the ability to reduce blood pressure and help to slow your rapidly thumping heart so that it beats more regularly.
Atenolol can reduce and control high blood pressure, angina, prevent migraine headaches and they can be helpful after a heart attack. However as there are side effects from Atenolol you should find out if using this tablet will be of benefit to you. Your doctor needs to be told if you have asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, emphysema, are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, breast-feeding, or have any other medical conditions.
For anxiety atenolol dosage should be taken on a regular basis. There needs to be at least 8 hours between each dose. Should a dosage be missed and it is near the time of your next dose, you must take only that dosage and not a double or even an extra dosage.
There are also certain drugs that will interact with atenolol and side effects that you should be aware of. Antacids, calcium salts, cocaine, diabetes medicines, high blood pressure medicines and medicines used to control heart rhythms. Side effects due to atenolol include changes in vision, coldness, tingling, or numb hands or feet, confusion, difficulty breathing, wheezing, dizziness or fainting spells amongst others. You should always inform your doctor if you suffer from any of these side-effects.
Mild side effects like anxiety, depression, nightmares, headaches, nausea, sexual difficulties and impotence, as well as others do not need to be medically treated. Your doctor will also need to be informed if you’re taking other types of anxiety medicines. You will need to let your doctor know if you plan on stopping your atenolol medication.
This is because stopping this medication suddenly can lead to serious heart-related effects.In treating anxiety atenolol can dull your mental concentration. Therefore it is advisable to avoid driving, using heavy machinery, or performing any task that needs your full mental alertness. You may experience dizziness, fainting spells or even drowsiness whilst under the effects of atenolol.
Atenolol can also affect blood sugar levels. Therefore if you have diabetes, you should check with your doctor before you change your diet or the dosage of your diabetic medicine. For anxiety sufferers who are undergoing surgery, your doctor must be informed prior to the surgery that you are taking atenolol.
For the sufferer from constant anxiety atenolol tablets might just be the one thing that can help you cope with a world gone awry so talk to your doctor to find out whether atenolol is the best thing for you and think seriously on the possible side-effects.
Beta Blockers and Anxiety – What to Know
You and your doctor or psychiatrist will work together to discover the best possible medication to treat your anxiety symptoms. One type of drug that they may recommend is known as a “Beta Blocker.” Beta blockers are not specifically an anti-anxiety drug. Rather, they are a class of drugs prescribed for a host of issues. While they may be used to treat heart disease, glaucoma, and hypertension, many doctors prescribe beta blockers for anxiety – especially those with severe anxiety and anxiety attacks.
Many people have reported using beta blockers with some success. But there are many risks associated with this class of drug, and in some cases, it’s possible that beta blockers will increase your anxiety, rather than help it. Below, we’ll explore the effects of beta blockers and the relationship between anxiety and these medications.
Do Beta Blockers Work?
In theory, beta blockers may help reduce anxiety. But they don’t reduce anxiety for everyone, and they can’t cure anxiety altogether. Beta blockers are taken “as needed.” to reduce anxiety in the moment, but the anxiety will still come back if not properly managed.
If you’re willing to commit to medication, then you’re willing to commit to something better and safer, and thus it is highly recommended that – no matter your success with beta blockers – you consider a supplementary non-medicinal treatment to learn how to manage your stress and anxiety.
How Beta Blockers Work
Beta-blockers are a class of drugs. They target what’s known as a “beta receptor” that is found on many cells in the sympathetic nervous system, including the heart, kidneys, muscles, and airways. During times of stress, these areas of the body are “excited” by epinephrine.
In those with heart disease, as well as other health issues, beta blockers reduce the effects of adrenaline on the sympathetic nervous system in order to prevent second heart attacks and other disorders that are exacerbated by stress.
There are many types of beta blockers. Two of the most commonly prescribed for anxiety are Propranolol and Atenolol. Other beta blockers may only affect areas that are not ideal for reducing anxiety or may cause too many side effects.
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 (anti-anxiety) 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.
Medicine as a Treatment
Medicine, in general, should not be used to treat anxiety by itself in the long term. Rather, it needs to be combined with other treatments that do not depend on medicine. Medicine can only dull anxiety or relieve symptoms, not cure it, and in most cases it can cause the brain to become dependent on the medicine and rely on it during times of stress.
For those living with anxiety, this can be a tremendous problem. Anxiety itself indicates that you may already be struggling to cope with stress. If you also depend on this medication – or any medication – without combining it other forms of therapy, you may find it more difficult to cope with anxiety after you stop taking the medication.
Side Effects of Beta Blockers
Yet the main reason to avoid beta blockers is the side effects. What’s unique about beta blockers is that no one knows how they’ll affect any given person. Everyone responds to beta blockers differently. So while some may find temporary relief from their anxiety, others may find their anxiety to be much worse, while others may see no effect.
The most common side effects of beta blockers for anxiety include:
- Shortness of Breath
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Sleep Disturbances/Nightmares
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Metabolism Changes
In rare cases, heart disease may become a problem for those taking beta blockers.
How Beta Blockers Increase Anxiety
Some people tolerate beta blockers well, and find that they’re successful for reducing anxiety symptoms. Others may find that the side effects increase their anxiety overall.
Those with panic attacks are especially prone to this anxiety increase, because many of the side effects of beta blockers act as triggers for anxiety attacks and increase stress.
Furthermore, the nightmares, sleep disorders, shortness of breath, hallucinations, and general ill feeling can increase anxiety in certain patients, leading to significant disturbances in coping ability.
Beta blockers have their place as an anxiety treatment, but beta blockers also have several dangers that make them a risky choice for regular use. Always consult a doctor before taking any beta blocker, and make sure that you keep your doctor informed of any side effects.
Alternative Treatments to Beta Blockers
All medications have their risks, and as mentioned above, medications in general are not an ideal form of treatment. Still, other medications may be more successful for reducing anxiety than beta blockers. Some people prefer medicines like busparone, while others may benefit from benzodiazepines like Valium.
Still, the best way to treat anxiety is to use a non-medicinal treatment that won’t cause dependency or side effects.
How Effective is Atenolol for Anxiety?
While there are many medications that treat anxiety, many of them can be highly addictive or have unwanted side effects such as drowsiness. This is why many people look for alternatives to the benzodiazepines that are usually prescribed for anxiety. Atenolol, and other beta-blockers are often prescribed as non-addictive medications for anxiety.
Beta-blockers, such as Atenolol, reduce the effects of adrenaline (epinephrine) upon the heart. They allow the heart to be more relaxed and reduces some of the physical effects of anxiety such as increased heart rate, shaking etc. Atenolol is generally not prescribed for long-term care, as it could affect heart rhythm and blood pressure over long term use.
Atenolol has a high potential for side effects, and should only be taken as prescribed. Due to the potentially harmful side effects, it is likely to be prescribed on a temporary basis for situational anxiety i.e. public speaking or exams. Even though they can be addictive, benzodiazepines are probably the best medication for long term daily use. Speak to your doctor about which medication would be best for you.
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While I wait for more chances to try the drug, a friend texts me in a panic. He’s recently taken a new job, and the next morning he has to make a one-on-one presentation to his firm’s CEO. He cuts to the chase. “You know those pills you were telling me about for performance anxiety? Can I grab some from you before I get on the plane?”
I say no, fearing it would be illegal to share them. He pressures me. I come up with a compromise. “Okay, I’ll drop some pills off late tonight,” I tell him. Then I drive to CVS, buy a bottle of vitamin B12, and leave five tablets in an envelope taped to his door. I text him careful instructions: Take one pill 90 minutes before the presentation, and another 15 minutes beforehand if he still feels nervous.
Later, he texts me from the plane: “What is this medication called?” “Propranolol,” I lie. He googles it and starts reading online reviews. “Wow, people really rave about this stuff,” he says.
After the meeting, I text him: “How did it go?” “Really well,” he replies. “Those pills are magic.”
My friend’s experience illustrates how hard it is to know how well these drugs really work: Because we want them to work, the odds of a placebo effect is high—and because the pills’ effect is signified by the absence of something, it’s difficult to know if the pills really kept you from feeling nervous. It’s similar to the flu vaccine: If you get the shot, and you don’t get the flu that year, can you say for certain that the immunization prevented the illness?
Placebo or not, I notice an effect when I start trying them. Although I don’t have any other public speaking opportunities in the weeks after I obtain the prescription, I take the pills a few times before important interviews at work. I tend not to get nervous during interviews … except, occasionally and unpredictably, I’ll start sweating. I remain sweat-free while on beta-blockers, with no rapid heartbeat or shallow breathing—though it’s hard to say how much to credit the drug for that.
The beta-blockers have a more noticeable effect in an unlikely setting: a two-day, 20-man annual golf tournament I play in with friends each year. I’m the worst golfer in the group, but on the first day, I play poorly even by my low standards. The next morning, on the driving range, I pop a propranolol. On the first tee, I’m unusually calm. (There’s a reason the PGA bans players from taking beta-blockers.) I still post the day’s poorest score, but I play far better than I usually do. The lack of nervousness is especially noticeable on tee shots and important putts—and with my handicap giving me strokes against my opponents, I keep my match competitive until the 16th hole. By then the drugs have worn off, and as I stand over a putt, I feel the familiar jitteriness—one I hadn’t felt that morning. Nonetheless, even my opponents notice the difference. “Dan played out of his mind today,” one announced over drinks at the clubhouse after the round.
I can only hope the pills work that well at my next public speaking opportunity.
This article is adapted from McGinn’s recent book, Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed.
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Daniel McGinn is a senior editor at the Harvard Business Review. He is the author of Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed. Connect Twitter