We’ve all experienced moments of performance anxiety.
That realization that we’re about to face a room full of people who will, inevitably, wind up staring at us, expecting us to say something profound, or clever, or at the very least informative.
Performance anxiety can push our biological panic button, which floods our system with adrenaline. Our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes difficult, and we start sweating like we’re in a Bikram yoga studio.
We all have different strategies for coping with that anxious response.
We try to breathe through it. We try to focus on our notes. We try to imagine our audience or interviewers naked (I’m not sure why, as it never seems to help).
Even more frustrating is the fact that as soon as we notice those physical symptoms, they cause even more anxiety, creating a downward spiral.
Propranolol can help prevent the physical response to performance anxiety that reacts to a room full of people the same way it does to mortal peril.
A 10-20mg dose of Propranolol one hour before a stress-inducing event can keep your heart rate level, your breathing steady, and your trembling (and sweating) subdued for several hours.
How long does Propranolol last for anxiety?
For most patients, Propranolol’s half-life is around 4 hours.
A medication’s half-life is the time it takes for the medication in our bodies to be reduced by 50%. So, Propranolol should give you at least 3-4 hours of relief from the physical symptoms of performance anxiety.
As Propranolol’s effects are most potent within the first 4 hours, you’ll want to time your dosage correctly. If you take it too close to your event, it may not have kicked in yet. Too early, though, and the effects might wear off by the time you get up on stage.
Taking your prescribed dosage one hour before your pivotal moment is the general recommendation from doctors to ensure you get the most benefit from your beta-blockers.
How long does it take Propranolol to leave your system?
Once Propranolol is in your system, it takes roughly 1-2 days for your body to completely clear it. Propranolol’s half-life is short, so it metabolizes quickly, and the Propranolol dosage for anxiety (10-20mg) is fairly low.
In order to lower the risk of interactions or side effects, you should wait until Propranolol exits your system completely before taking another medication. And always check with your doctor about possible interactions and side effects before taking Propranolol.
Propranolol is a prescription medication and may not be right for everyone. A consultation with one of our board-certified doctors can help you decide if it is the right choice to treat your performance anxiety.
Reviewed by Dr. Alex Dimitriu
Dr. Alex Dimitriu is a Stanford-trained physician with dual board certification in psychiatry and sleep medicine. The included content is not intended to replace medical advice. Always be sure to discuss any prescription medications with your doctor.