Beta-blockers in psychiatry


ß-blockers such as  propranolol block both β-adrenergic receptors. Other agents such as metoprolol and atenolol have a higher affinity for the β1-receptors and are thus more specific for this receptor. As is represented in the graphic, when the post-synaptic receptor is blocked, the effects of these receptors are also blocked.

Note that the symptoms of anxiety and tremulousness are associated with all the post-synaptic receptors, but a blockade of only the post-synaptic β-receptors will lead to a reduction in these symptoms. For more information on β-blockers click here.


Specific β2-adrenergic blocking agents are commonly used agents in psychiatry. 


Specific β2 adrenergic blocking agents are commonly used agents.


β-blocking agents are used for the chronic treatment of obsessive compulsive disorders. 


Propranolol is appropriate therapy for an asthmatic patient who develops stage fright on opening nights of his orchestra’s symphony.


Clonidine (an α2 adrenergic agonist) is also appropriate therapy for the symptomatic management of anxiety.