Beta-Blockers for Performance Anxiety

Have you been tapped to offer a toast at the rehearsal dinner of your best friend’s wedding? Are you anxious about sitting for that upcoming licensure exam that you’ve put off for far too long? Do you find yourself dripping with sweat or shaking like a leaf at the mere thought of delivering a presentation to your company’s favored client?

performance_anxietyIf so, you’re not alone for sure. Performing under pressure where there is something to lose plagues all of to some extent. If or when you find yourself in such a situation, beta-blocker medications can potentially make quite a bit of difference for the better.

By blocking beta receptors in the heart, blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output are all decreased. This has led to clinical uses in the treatment of hypertension, angina, and cardiac arrhythmias. Outside of physical medicine though, beta-blockers are used in the treatment of anxiety-prone situations with symptoms such as palpitations, sweating and tremor.

Commonly prescribed beta-blockers are Inderal (propranolol), Tenormin (atenolol) and Toprol ( metoprolol). When taken one to two hours prior to a stressful event, side effects are negligible – possibly a bit of tiredness and a slowed heart rate – which of course is a goal in alleviating peripheral anxiety symptoms. Beta-blockers are contraindicated though in those with asthma, emphysema and other respiratory disorders.

Use of Inderal in performance anxiety is customarily in a dosage range of 10-60mg – again to be taken one to two hours prior to the perceived stressful circumstance. These drugs have long benefited performers in many genres appear calm and collected when the “red light” goes on.

They can do the same for you.

Joseph Wegmann, R.Ph., LCSW is a licensed clinical pharmacist and a clinical social worker with more than thirty years of experience in the field of psychopharmacology. His diverse professional background in psychopharmacology and counseling affords him a unique perspective on medication management issues. In addition to consulting with numerous psychiatric facilities, he has presented psychopharmacology seminars to thousands of clinicians in 46 states.

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