What Doctors Want You to Know About Beta Blockers for Anxiety | Trending Viral hub


Anxious before a big job interview? Worried about giving a speech? Nervous on the first date?

The solution, some digital startups suggest, is a beta blocker, a type of medication that can lower heart rate and blood pressure, masking some of the physical symptoms of anxiety.

Normally it would be necessary to go to the doctor’s office to get a prescription, but several companies are now connecting patients with doctors for quick virtual visits and shipping medications to people’s homes.

“No more ‘shaky and sweaty,’” an online ad promised. “Easy and quick intake in 15 minutes.”

That worries Dr. Yvette I. Sheline, a professor of psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The first question is: What is wrong with this person?” Dr. Sheline said. Are they depressed as well as anxious? Do they have chronic anxiety or is it just a temporary case of stage fright? “You don’t want to end up prescribing the wrong thing,” he added.

Additionally, although beta blockers are generally considered safe, experts say they can have unpleasant side effects and should be used with caution.

Beta blockers like propranolol hydrochloride They have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for chest pain, migraine prevention, involuntary tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, and other uses.

Some are still prescribed for hypertension, although they are no longer considered the preferred treatmentmainly because other medications are more effective in preventing stroke and death.

Beta blockers can relieve physical symptoms of the “fight or flight” response to stress, such as tremors, sweaty palms, or palpitations, but they are not approved by the FDA to treat anxiety disorders.

For decades, doctors have prescribed them for problems other than their approved uses, including problems like stage fright. In recent years, celebrities such as Robert Downey Jr. and Khloé Kardashian have said medication helped them overcome performance anxiety.

When we start to feel anxious or stressed, our body produces adrenaline, which prepares us to respond to perceived danger. The hormone tells our heart to beat faster and narrows our blood vessels to redirect blood to important organs like the heart and lungs. Our breathing accelerates and we begin to sweat.

Beta blockers work by “blocking” the effects of adrenaline. They cause the heart to beat more slowly and less forcefully, which helps lower blood pressure.

But if you’re feeling especially anxious, “your mind will still race, you’ll still ruminate and worry,” said Regine Galanti, a psychologist in Cedarhurst, New York, who treats people with anxiety disorders.

In other words, beta blockers won’t address the root of your fears. “If it becomes weekly, ‘Oh, I’m having a hard time in this course.’ I’ll take a beta blocker every time.’ I would say, ‘What’s the long-term goal here?’” he added.

Typically, patients are only prescribed a few pills for specific situations in which they might experience stage anxiety, said Dr. Joseph Bienvenu, a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. But some online companies distribute up to 48 at a time.

Yes. Beta blockers can cause dizziness. Other possible side effects They include fatigue, cold hands or feet, trouble sleeping, and nightmares. They can also cause stomach problems such as nausea or diarrhea and, less commonly, difficulty breathing.

That’s why some doctors recommend their patients avoid taking them for the first time on the day of a big event.

Dr. Bienvenu advises patients to initially try the medication on the weekend or “when they have nothing else to do.”

“I just want people to know how it’s going to affect them,” he said.

Possibly. But experts suggested visiting your family doctor first.

Beta blockers may not be recommended for some people with diabetes, low blood pressure, or bradycardia, which is a slow heartbeat, or for people with asthma or another lung disease. And certain medications, including some cholesterol and cardiovascular medications, can interact with them.

Online doctors don’t have your complete medical history and haven’t examined you in person, said Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

Without a physical exam, some patients may not know they have an underlying problem such as an irregular heartbeat, he added. And they may not know who to call if they have questions after getting a prescription.

“It is necessary that they control it with this type of medication,” he said.

For those who often face anxiety-provoking tasks, such as public speaking, experts said, it might be more beneficial to try breathing techniques either exposure therapywhich involves directly confronting what makes us anxious to break a pattern of fear and avoidance.

“Masking your anxiety symptoms won’t teach you how to control them,” Dr. Galanti said.

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