propranolol vs xanax comparison

Propranolol vs Xanax: Anti-Anxiety Medications Compared

When considering medicine options to address anxiety Propranolol and Xanax are two drugs that are likely to come up in conversation. While at first glimpse they may appear similar and work in similar ways, the reality is they both are completely different classes of drugs with different mechanisms of actions, side effects, and risk of dependancy.

What is Propranolol?

Propranolol is a beta blocker.  It dates all the way back to the 1960s, and it was first invented to treat angina (chest pain) and to treat high blood pressure.  It didn’t take long, however, for doctors to notice that it also had other uses.  It was able to help reduce hand tremors, aid people with their migraines, and it also helped ease performance anxiety as well.  As such, the drug has been prescribed to a wide range of folks for all types of reasons.  A couple of uses for the drug exist that would not have been thought of right off the bat for most people.  Many people that have a fear of public speaking use it, even professional golfers have also been known to use it to get an edge during competitions.

What is Xanax?

Xanax (also known as alprazolam) is one of the most prescribed psychiatric medications in the entire United States. It is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. Unlike Propranolol, the drug was developed totally with the idea of fighting anxiety and panic disorders in mind.  It was created in 1956, though it was not released until 1981, and the goal behind it was to be less addictive than other “tranquilizer” drugs. Despite these early claims, Xanax has proven to be very addictive and is a controlled substance that should only be taken when under the close supervisor of a physician.

How to Obtain Propranolol and Xanax

Both drugs are prescription only, and doctors do take it very seriously to prescribe to only patients that need them. Xanax especially is a controlled substance with high abuse potential, propranolol is not controlled and dose not carry a risk of abuse so doctors are generally more open to prescribing it for those who suffer from event driven performance anxiety. can connect you with a U.S. physician who can issue and ship you propranolol if appropriate for your situation.

What Purposes Do Propranolol and Xanax Have?

As we talked about a bit earlier, the two drugs have diverse histories.  Xanax was created and thought of entirely within the realm of anxiety and panic disorders.  While it can be used for other purposes, those are very rare, especially when compared to Propranolol.  Propranolol, meanwhile, can have a ton of reasons for its use.  Propranolol can be used to treat high blood pressure or chest pain, as originally it was created to do, or it could help with your headaches, stop your hands from shaking (tremors), or help curb performance anxiety. So in general Xanax has one main purpose of treating anxiety and panic attacks, whereas propranolol is prescribed numerous reasons.

Types of Anxiety Propranolol & Xanax Can Treat

Xanax is prescribed and FDA approved for the treatment of many types of anxiety including social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and panic attacks. Propranolol on the other hand is used off label for short term event driven performance anxiety and is not meant to be taken on an ongoing consistent basis.

How Quickly Do They Work?

One of the main things that we have to get across to you is the fact that drugs do not react the same to every single body.  Some will work quicker than others, and some will simply not work as well for you.  Having said that, most out there will be interested in how quickly Propranolol and Xanax start to act in your body.  This is especially a big deal to anyone that is dealing with anxiety and simply can’t be bothered with it in that moment.  For a lot of people, this question arises due to years of trying to find a drug that works.  There are types of drugs out there that have shown to do very well at combating anxiety, but they take quite a long time to ‘kick in.’  SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are one such example of this

The bright side of both Propranolol and Xanax is that they each work relatively quickly compared to other drugs on the market for treating anxiety.  Xanax users typically start being relieved of symptoms within an hour of taking the drug.  For Propranolol users, the results can be even quicker.  This is why so many are prescribed the drug for ‘stage fright,’ as it does tend to kick in quickly (30 to 60 minutes).  So, both do react quickly, though Propranolol is a faster option in most cases. 

Risk of Addiction and Physical Dependence

When the first Xanax drug was released on the market, the thought was that it would not be causing very many problems with substance abuse, addiction, dependence, ect.  However, that has not turned out to be the case. The main symptoms that accompany Xanax withdrawal or dependency are anxiety, insomnia, and seizures.  Its abuse is quite rampant and is not something that should be overlooked when considering it. 

As for Propranolol, the risk of dependency and abuse is lessened considerably.  Beta blockers are not ‘controlled substances,’ and thus they are not narcotics or considered to be addictive

Side Effects

As with any drug, there are bound to be side effects to look into. 

For propranolol you are at increased risk of side effects if you:

  • Asthma, bronchospasm, or other problems related to breathing
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Slower than normal heart rate
  • Raynaud’s syndrome or other peripheral artery diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Abnormal blood pressure levels

Common side effects of propranolol include:

  • Slowed heart rate
  • Hair loss
  • Dry eyes
  • Nausea
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Breathing problems
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Vomiting

Xanax also carries with it the risk of serious side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Memory problems
  • Poor balance or coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Increased sweating
  • And more…

How Long Do They Stay In the System?

For Xanax, the usual time frame is going to be 4-5 days, while Propranolol will stay with you about two days.  As it relates to Xanax, it does tend to stay with you longer, as you would expect since it does take a little longer to kick in.  With Propranolol, it’s basically going to be ‘quick in, quick out.’  You’ll not feel affects from it for all that long, even if it does technically remain within your system for a couple of days.  Remember, that there are a number of factors, such as you metabolism, height and weight, your overall level of health, age, and how much you have taken which will drive how long it takes to leave your body. 

Coming off Propranolol and Xanax

Should you need to come off of Propranolol and Xanax, you will need to approach the situation very differently.  With Propranolol, there are much less side effects and symptoms than most drugs out there.  It is not addictive, either, so that means that it’s much less likely to cause you any long-term problems with withdrawal.  With Xanax, though, you need to make sure to work only with your doctor to taper off the amount.  You will be lessened over time, as the withdrawal symptoms are very nasty to deal with.  Going cold turkey is not something you will enjoy doing at all. 

Propranolol and Xanax Typical Dosage

The dosage that you are given is going to be unique to your individual circumstances and what your needs are.  If you are looking into both of these drugs, you’re more than likely coming at it from an anxiety standpoint.  Therefore, we will approach it from that angle.  With Propranolol, you’re likely to be given a very small dose when compared to those that are given the drug for issues with their heart or blood pressure.  Anxiety patients using Propranolol generally are prescribed about 10 mg or 20 mg (about ten times less than the minimum amount given for heart problems).  This also has the added bonus of making side effects more improbable, as it has even been used in babies as small as 22 lbs who suffer from infantile hemangioma (a type of birthmark)

As for Xanax, the amount you’ll be prescribed is going to come in the form of a tablet and will range between 0.25 mg and 2 mg, depending on the specific patient.  Typically, this is going to start toward the lower end of the spectrum, with doctors only bumping you up the scale if you are not responding well.  The goal is to make it so you don’t have to use the drug at all, so they do start small initially.  Remember to always follow instructions and never take too much, as it can develop addictive tendencies.  Easing off yourself is also a very bad idea, due to the numerous withdrawal symptoms so it is vital to discontinue use under close doctor supervision.

Conclusion: Which is Best for Your Situation?

Answering the question which is best between Propranolol and Xanax is a very tough one to do, and it’s a question that is ultimately left up to the patient and your your doctor and/or psychiatrist.  There are lots of people out there that have tried, or even still take both drugs depending on the symptoms and situation. If you are interested in propranolol for anxiety, can help connect you with a U.S. licensed physician who can prescribe and have your medication shipped directly to your home.

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