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, we experience breathing problems, 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.
This means you can get through delivering your big presentation during the quarterly meeting or answering a recruiter's questions during a job interview without your nerves hijacking your body in the process.
A 10-20mg dose of this beta-blocker drug one hour before a stress-inducing event can keep your heart rate level, your breathing steady, and your trembling (and sweating) hands subdued for several hours.
It's an alternative to many of the other options that are frequently turned to when managing pre-performance jitters, including alcohol or anxiety medications like Xanax.
How Long Does Propranolol Last For Anxiety?
For most patients, Propranolol’s half-life is around 4 hours.
Half-life is the time it takes for the medication in our bodies to be reduced by 50%. So, your prescription should give you at least 3-4 hours of relief from the physical symptoms of performance anxiety.
The effects of Propranolol are most potent within the first 4 hours, so 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-blocker prescription.
So for instance, if you're using this for public speaking, try taking your medication an hour before your presentation start-time. You might even feel Propranolol work as you begin to warm up and review your notes before your big moment.
How Long Does It Take Propranolol To Leave Your System?
Once this medication is in your system, it takes roughly 1-2 days for your body to completely clear it. Its half-life is short, so it metabolizes quickly, and the Propranolol dosage for anxiety 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 be sure to review your treatment plan or check with your doctor about possible interactions and side effects before taking this medication.
This is is a prescription drug 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 in your case.
Though this is generally considered a safe medication, it isn't right for all. Our doctors will review your medical history and personalized needs to determine if this treatment option is right for you in overcoming situational 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.