Anxiety is a mental health disorder that manifests in many different individual conditions that are all related but also have there own symptoms and characteristics. There are too many to name her but a few examples would be, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety or Social Phobia and many more. There are many different approaches to treating anxiety in it’s various guises from anti – anxiety or anti-depressive medication, there are also the benzodiazepine range of tranquilizers such as diazepam (valium), lorezepam etc and the stronger major tranquilizers known as anti-psychotics.
Not as well known for the treatment of anxiety disorders are beta-blocker medication such as atenolol, bisoprolol and various others names and brands depending on where you are in the world.The main use of beta blocker medication is in the cardio department where they are used to treat people with heart and circulatory problems, high blood pressure and angina symptoms. They work by slowing down the heart rate which in turn puts less pressure on the hearts pumping action.
When a person becomes anxious or has a panic attack approaching he or she will start to breathe faster, their heartbeat will increase to a rapid rate and they may feel palpitations as a result of this, they will also start to sweat and may become dizzy and unsteady. Beta blockers can be very beneficial in theses situations as they already have the heartbeat slowed down which in itself may be enough to ward off an attack, they also have the ability to reduce the effect of adrenalin on the brain which will slow down the fight or run response mechanism when a person starts to panic.
So beta blockers can help anxiety sufferers with the physical symptoms of their disorder but it is important to remember they will not treat the emotional aspects. Beta blockers should only be prescribed by a doctor as they can be dangerous for some people so should never be self prescribed. Your doctor may try you on an anti-anxiety medication combined with a beta blocker to help with the physical symptoms.
As with any medications there are side effects to beta blockers, here are a few of the main ones:
- Tiredness – because your heart rate is being slowed down you may feel more tired than usual or get tired earlier in the evening than you would do normally
- Dizziness – usually when rising from a sitting or lying position, you should get up slowly and wait a few seconds before moving around
- Weight gain – as with many medications beta blockers can affect your weight, eat a healthy diet and get exercise to try and maintain a healthy weight
- If use for a long period of time dependency can occur – never stop this drug abruptly, always discuss a tapering off period with your doctor
As always discuss your medication with your doctor, he or she knows what will work best for your symptoms.
© Andrew Tudor Jones