Updated on February 3, 2023
3 min read

How Quickly Does Propranolol Work for Anxiety?

What is Propranolol?

Propranolol is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication that acts as a beta-blocker. It is used mainly to treat heart conditions, such as: 

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure 
  • Migraines
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Beta-blockers have also proven to be effective in treating anxiety and anxiety disorders. They do this by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine or "adrenaline."


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Common Side Effects of Propranolol

Propranolol causes your heart rate to slow, lowering your blood pressure. This mitigates the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as shortness of breath and a racing heart. This can make you feel calmer and more relaxed.

However, it's still possible to feel negative side effects. The side effects of propranolol are typically mild and include:

  • Tiredness 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness (caused by a slow heart rate) 
  • Cold hands and feet (blood supply to extremities might be affected) 
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Nausea 

Is Propranolol Safe?

Propranolol is not physically addictive. However, you may become accustomed to the relaxed feeling that propranolol provides. This is especially true for anxiety treatment.

Propranolol is safe to take for an extended period. People taking it for several years haven't reported any serious side effects.

How Quickly Does Propranolol Work for Anxiety?

Propranolol is relatively fast-acting. However, it isn't as immediate as other medications, such as Xanax, commonly used to treat panic attacks.

It generally takes between 30 minutes and 1 hour to experience the effects of propranolol. These effects are most pronounced for about 4 hours after dosage but can occur for up to 12 hours. 

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How Long Will I Need to Take Propranolol for Anxiety?

There is no standardized duration for taking propranolol to treat anxiety. You may take it once to deal with an anxiety-inducing event or take it daily for several months.

Propranolol should be taken about an hour before the event to feel the desired effects. The dosage should also not exceed the amount recommended by your doctor or any healthcare professional qualified to give medical advice.

How Much Propranolol Should I Take for Anxiety?

The usual dose of propranolol to treat anxiety is 40mg once per day. This can typically be increased to 40mg up to 3 times a day or up to 80mg per dose.

Dosage depends on the following factors:

  • Severity of symptoms
  • Body weight
  • Response to treatment

How Long Do Beta Blockers Take to Work for Anxiety?

It usually takes between 30 minutes and 1 hour to experience the effects of propranolol. These effects can last for up to 12 hours.

Speak with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dose. You may also ask about other treatment options if you take beta-blockers for anxiety. 

Does Propranolol Affect Mental Function?

Propranolol has not been shown to impair cognitive function or cause any mental health-related side effects. In one study, it improved cognitive functioning in 16% of participants. On the other hand, it worsened functioning in 17%, with no significant impact on the rest.

Propranolol Statistics



Estimated number of prescriptions of propranolol hydrochloride in the U.S.



Average total drug cost for propranolol hydrochloride.



Average out-of-pocket costs for propranolol hydrochloride.

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Updated on February 3, 2023
4 sources cited
Updated on February 3, 2023
  1. Steenen, Serge A et al. “Propranolol for the treatment of anxiety disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis.” Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England) vol. 30,2 : 128-39. doi:10.1177/0269881115612236, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4724794/
  2. Jorstad-Stein EC, et al. "Social Phobia: An Update on Treatment," Psychiatric Clinics of North America (Sept. 2009): Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 641–63., https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19716995/
  3. Stein MB, et al. "Social Anxiety Disorder," Lancet (March 29, 2008): Vol. 371, No. 9618, pp. 1115–25., https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18374843/
  4. Kane, Sean P. “Propranolol Hydrochloride.” Propranolol Hydrochloride - Drug Usage Statistics, ClinCalc DrugStats Database, 2018, clincalc.com/DrugStats/Drugs/PropranololHydrochloride.

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