Fight or flight while taking beta blockers - advice needed

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Hi y’all. Im (33 F) looking for some anecdotal experience or advice relating to how fight or flight may be experienced when taking beta blockers.

Background: I have dealt with anxiety for years. I’ve had social anxiety and panic attacks since I was 16, and health anxiety for the past 12 months.

My anxiety had always been between mild and moderate depending on my life circumstances, but around 12 months ago it ramped up significantly. I had a tough time with rolling panic attacks and health anxiety that lasted for around 10 months and left me really poorly, however I am starting to feel better and am able to do more things for myself. I have started to leave the house more, and find that when I am out I can feel OK, then I start to feel dizzy and almost drunk like the ground beneath my feet is moving and like I’m about to pass out. This feeling can pass in a few minutes but will happen several times a when I’m out of my house. I get the overwhelming sensation that I need help or to escape whatever situation that Im in (always mundane ie grocery shopping). Im guess that sounds like a panic attack, but the symptoms described are the only thing I experience, ie no rapid heart/choking sensation. I wonder if what I’m experiencing is fight or flight but by taking 10mg propranolol before going out its lessening some sensations and just leaving me with the others. Does anyone else have any experience of propranolol working this way, blocking some effects of adrenaline but not all? FYI blood pressure, heart and bloods have all been screened and are normal. I am based in the UK and finding it difficult to get advice from my GP in relation to this.

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you are doing ok today.

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  • Edited

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    I am sorry to hear about your current challenges, and am also going through a very hard time with debilitating anxiety (32 F). I first went in with terrifying, constant fight or flight symptoms and the doctor's first line was propranolol. I had the same experience, in that some symptoms were muted (i.e. I didn't quite feel like I was falling off a building anymore), but the overall experience made me feel worse - I went into a cold sweat, was sleepy but couldn't rest or sleep, and just felt very unwell. The drug wasn't for me, but I did have a similar experience with some symptoms shifting while others did not.

    This is definitely not recommended for long term use (I unfortunately don't have a choice for now), but anything in the benzodiazepine class is the only thing that has brought me some semblance of relief. Perhaps it could help you on an as-needed basis if you have a big day or event you want to feel levelled for.

    Wishing you comfort and courage,


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  • Edited

    Hi Sarah,

    My mental health nurse said to me the other day that GPs often prescribe 10mg of beta blockers bit most mental health practitioners start at 40mg for anxiety sufferers so it may be worth going back to the doctor. Are you able to see a mental health nurse rather than just a general doctor who often dont specialise in this area. You need to be proud of how you are doing and remember to give yourself credit for all the positives you are achieving. There are so many of us out there and you are not alone.

    take care Sarah

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  • Edited

    hi, i take 40mg propanol a day but in 10mg doses which helps in addition to 40mg citalopram. i have experienced the symptoms you describe but it sounds like you might need a bit of a higher dose to keep you going throughout the day. glad to hear youve made some progress, its a hard daily battle and you should be so proud of how far you've come

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