Public speaking can be nerve-wracking. Others have tried many ways to combat their anxiety. You have also tried but you realized that the only time in your life that you personally feel anxious is when you are about to give a speech or a presentation.
You do not receive the opportunity to speak publicly often enough. This being the case you have not been able to become as comfortable with speaking publicly as you would like. You hate the way your hands start to sweat and how nauseous you feel. It’s all a terrible feeling that you dread.
You know that some have decided to take Xanax, and as a result, they have become addicted. You do not think that it is worth the risk for something that happens every once in a while. You have done some research and you think that maybe taking Beta-blockers could be a good idea. You also have noticed that Beta-blockers are nonaddictive. You think to yourself “maybe this is the medication for me.” You may wonder do Beta-blockers really help with public speaking?
Before making a decision, it is important to know exactly what Beta-blockers are, their intended use, the specific Beta-blocker that can be used to help with anxiety, the side effects, and if it really does help with public speaking. You can find the answers to all those questions in this article.
What Are Beta Blockers?
Per the Texas Heart Institute, Beta-blockers are medications used to treat heart conditions and reduce blood pressure. They cause the heart to beat at a slower pace and with less force by blocking certain natural chemicals within the body that affect the heart and blood vessels.
However, Beta-blockers have been used off-label to reduce performance/public speaking anxiety. Propranolol is the most common Beta-blocker used to reduce public speaking anxiety. Although it can be taken in the form of an injection or an oral tablet, most people are prescribed to use the oral tablet.
You feel the effects of beta-blockers relatively quickly. Generally, within one hour, those who use Beta-blockers feel more relaxed. Once the medication is in your system, you can feel the effects of a low dose for a few hours. Additionally, the Beta-blockers used to help someone remain calm are nonselective, meaning that they work to decrease arterial and venous pressure.
It is crucial that you consult with your doctor before you decide to start or stop taking Beta-blockers. Your healthcare professional may want to gradually reduce the amount of the Beta-blocker that you are taking. Abruptly stopping can increase your risk of having a heart attack or other heart problems.
Do Beta Blockers Help With Public Speaking?
Beta-blockers can help with public speaking. Per the MayoClinic, Beta-blockers calm your nerves, slow down your heart rate, and reduce external nervous ticks that can detract from your presentation or speech. It can also help treat other common public speaking anxiety symptoms such as dry mouth, nausea, and sweaty hands. Beta-blockers suppress your body’s response to adrenaline. They also block the effects of your stress hormones that can cause anxiety symptoms.
Does Propranolol Help Public Speaking?
Propranolol is the most common Beta-blocker used to help those who suffer from public speaking anxiety. However, it is important to note, Propranolol and other Beta-blockers do not affect mental anxiety symptoms per GoodRx. Propranolol is not an anti-anxiety medication. Medications designed specifically for anxiety, such as Xanax, target specific areas of your brain to help calm your nerves. This is not the case with Beta-blockers.
With that in mind, you may still feel nervous before speaking publicly but you are less likely to show signs of physical reactions caused by nervousness. It can be a short-term option to manage your anxiety symptoms, but it should not be used long term.
Many who have taken Propranolol, find it to be very beneficial because Propranolol is not addictive. This means that its users do not develop a dependency on it, as can be the case with those taking Xanax. It also means that its users will not experience withdrawal symptoms if they decide to stop taking the drug.
However, as is the case with all medications, consult your healthcare provider before stopping your prescription.
Also, you want to keep in mind that you must take action on your part. You still must prepare very well for your speech or presentation. Propranolol can help elevate signs of physical nervousness but if you have not practiced and you do not know your content well, it will not be beneficial. Propranolol is not a substitute for preparation.
What Are The Side Effects Of Beta-blockers?
As is common with most medications and drugs, you may experience side effects while taking Beta-blockers, including Propranolol. Per MedicalNewsToday, these side effects include but are not limited to:
- Cold hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain
- Reduced heart rate
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Low blood pressure
If you experience serious side effects, please contact a medical health provider or 911 right away.
Less common side effects may include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Constipation or diarrhea
Keep in mind that Propranolol can interact with other medications that you are currently taking. This means that if you take Propranolol along with other medications or vitamins it can change the way the other substances work. This has the potential of being harmful if it causes another critical medication to not work properly. Review all of your current medications with your doctor to make sure that they do not conflict with the use of Propranolol.
Who Should Not Take Beta-blockers?
Doctors normally do not prescribe Beta-blockers to those who have asthma. There is a high chance that this medication might cause severe asthma attacks.
Those who have diabetes should be extremely careful. Beta-blockers may prohibit crucial signs that your blood sugar is low. After consulting your doctor and deciding to take this medication, it is imperative that you regularly check your blood sugar.
Keep in mind that while taking Beta-blockers you should avoid eating and drinking any products that have caffeine in them, including coffee. This can be a challenge because many often resort to drinking coffee in the morning or the morning of the presentation so that they are more alert. Alcohol is another item that you want to avoid drinking while on Beta-blockers. Drinking alcohol can reduce the effects of the medication.
What Can I Take To Calm My Nerves Before Public Speaking? Are There Natural Alternates To Beta-blockers That I Can Take? If So, What Are They?
Yes, there are natural alternatives to Beta-blockers that you can take. There are a variety of different foods and herbs that function as natural Beta-blockers. There are also natural supplements that can be taken. However, it would be beneficial for you to consult your doctor before you start taking them.
Antioxidants are extremely beneficial. There is a large variety of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants. Included in this group are blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kale, artichokes, red cabbage, etc.
Although you may love fruits and vegetables you might want something a little more interesting. You will be very pleased to know that dark chocolate is also very rich in antioxidants. It is one of the best sources of antioxidants. Eating fish and nuts can also be beneficial.
There are also practical things that you can do to help reduce your anxiety without taking Propranolol. You can make sure that you:
- Establish or maintain a nutritious diet, including some of the foods mentioned above
- Get sufficient rest
- Drink plenty of water
- Practice your presentation
Do Beta Blockers Help With Public Speaking: Final Analysis
In review, taking Beta-blockers, especially Propranolol, can help with public speaking because it blocks the effects of your stress hormones that cause anxiety symptoms. Granted, everyone’s individual chemical makeup is different and even though taking Propranolol may be beneficial to someone else, it may not be ideal for you.
Taking Propranolol is not a long-term solution and should not be used without first speaking to your doctor. Remember, there are natural alternatives that you can use to lessen your public speaking anxiety. These can help and they are free of side effects.
It is also helpful to remember that other ways can help you combat public speaking anxiety. You can take public speaking classes, practice a lot and get enough rest.
For additional ways that can help minimize your public speaking anxiety read the following articles
Also, for more information about Xanax take a look at the “Does Taking Xanax Help Before A Presentation? [The Astonishing Truth]” article as well as the online resources provided by Space 4 Speaking.