“Beta Blockers” is a classification of medication primarily used to treat hypertension, decrease heart rate and migraines. One side effect of this class of medication is that it blocks the body’s physiological response to stress. Feeling like your heart is pounding, you can’t breath, your muscles are becoming tight and shaky, cold and clammy hands are all reactions to the sympathetic nervous system referred to as “Fight or Flight” and “Performance Anxiety”.
There are 2 components to “Performance Anxiety” or “Stage Freight”:
1. Physical effects
2. Mental Effects
3. Emotional Effects
Beta blockers effectively target the physical effects and aspects of anxiety; only 1/3 of the equation.
The ability of a beta blocker to help anxiety seems related to the blockade of Beta Receptors outside the brain. Beta Blockers, both natural beta blockers and chemical beta blockers, are widely used by musicians to help them feel calmer and more physically comfortable while performing. Being calmer dose not always mean you will perform at your best. Peak performance requires a tremendous amount of energy and focus. Beta blockers reduce distractions and can also mean focus is reduced. Performance anxiety is complex.
Beta blockers should only be used to treat anxiety in small doses and only on special occasions so patients will not experience a multitude of side effects. However, the multitude of side effects reported from using beta blockers to treat beta blocker anxiety are as listed. These side effects include slowed heart rate. low blood pressure, cold extremities, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, short term memory loss, sleep disturbances, dry mouth, difficulty urinating, bronchospasms , wheezes, muscle and joint pain.
The use of Beta Blockers in treating anxiety varies among individuals and those using them should be educated with regard to side effects and drug interactions and monitored by a physician. The use of Beta Blockers for treating anxiety is not FDA Approved.
Natural Beta Blockers are another option in treating anxiety and reducing stress. Relaxing or natural herbs have sedative qualities and work in their own way similar to Beta Blockers. True Beta Blockers, like propranolol, block beta receptors. Natural Beta Blockers relax stress receptors and modulate neurotransmitters therefore easing tension.
Relaxing herbs act quicker and better in a short period of time and are most effective when only used infrequently. Neither Chemical Beta Blockers nor Natural Beta Blockers are addictive.
Although anxiety herbs or natural beta blockers can relax the Central Nervous System which makes them useful in the treatment of stress, anxiety, sleep problems, high blood pressure, arrhythmia and depression: Your Own Mind Is Your Strongest Cure. The way you think and handle everyday problems can have an immense role in dealing with stress and anxiety.