Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today is from Janet in Las Vegas. Is it normal to get a prescription for propranolol? I’ve been having some weird heavy feeling in my chest after I took it. What sort of experience can people have after taking it?
Propranolol is in a class of medications called beta-adrenergic antagonists or more commonly known as beta-blockers. Their function is to prevent too much adrenaline from reaching the receptors for adrenaline on the heart. This helps your heart to be slower and do less work and also helps to relax blood vessels and lower your blood pressure.
Propranolol is used for management of high blood pressure, to slow or steady a rapid or irregular heartbeat, and also to protect your heart from further damage if you’ve had an MI or myocardial infarction or a heart attack. It can also be an effective medication for anxiety and anger.
When we are anxious or very angry, our bodies are entering what is called the fight-flight-freeze mode. We are getting ready to face a threat or perceived threat. We are preparing to face the threat and engage it, withdraw from the threat, or we freeze up and we can’t do anything.
During this condition, our bodies will be broadcasting alarms. We will feel our heart rate increase, our breathing will become fast and shallow, our palms will sweat and we will shake. This can create what is called a “positive feedback loop.” We already think that there’s a threat, now our bodies are confirming this false message with all of these readiness signals, so we get more worked up and anxious and more angry.
A beta-blocker can keep our heart from racing, keep us from shaking and sweating, and generally send the message that things are not that bad and then we can use the coping skills that we’ve hopefully learned to de-escalate ourselves even further.