Most of us have experienced performance anxiety at least once. The realization that a roomful of people is waiting to watch us speak or perform can be flat out alarming.
And that anxiety can quickly turn into panic when adrenaline floods our system. Our hearts start beating faster, and our breathing and internal temperature go haywire.
Many people assume that it takes a major medical intervention to relieve performance anxiety during these crucial situations.
Surprisingly, however, the typical propranolol dosage for anxiety is actually quite low, with most doctors recommending taking 10mg – 20 mg an hour before a pivotal moment like a presentation, job interview, or crucial exam.
This is a fraction of the normal dosage recommended for other conditions beta-blockers are used for like migraines, hypertension, and heart conditions.
How does propranolol work for anxiety?
When your body goes into fight-or-flight mode as a response to stress, adrenaline kicks in. It sends your heart rate through the roof, makes your breathing short and shallow, and, in some of us, produces upsetting amounts of sweat.
Unfortunately, as humans, our bodies have not yet adjusted to our modern environment.
Our physical response to stress is the same, whether we’re nervous about presenting to a room full of people or facing down a hungry lion.
The physical processes designed to keep us alive and uneaten in the animal world are obstacles in a human world that rewards crisp, relaxed performances.
A high heart rate can further elevate anxiety, resulting in a negative spiral. Shallow breathing or trembling can spoil a performance, regardless of how practiced a speaker or performer is.
When you take your propranolol dose for anxiety, however, it blocks adrenaline from impacting the way your body feels.
That helps prevent many of the physical responses to stress like high heart rate, labored breathing, and excessive sweating. The elimination of those physical symptoms helps calm many people as they prepare to perform at their peak.
How do I know what the right Propranolol dosage is for me?
Like we mentioned above, doctors tend to prescribe propranolol in 10mg – 20 mg to be taken an hour before a big moment. This micro-dose, taken only when needed, is usually enough to achieve the relief from performance anxiety that beta-blockers provide.
However, it’s important to give your doctor a full medical history as well as an updated list of any medications and supplements you’re taking to help figure out the right dosage for you.
As with any medication, the exact dosage will vary based on your height, weight, body composition and a variety of other factors.
Though beta-blockers can cause some side effects, taking the correct dosage recommended by your doctor can help minimize or eliminate them altogether.
Propranolol is a prescription medication and may not be right for everyone. You can register for a consultation with one of our board-certified doctors today to learn if a Propranolol prescription is right for you.
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.