Can beta blockers help with test-related anxiety?

This blog answers questions about: Can beta-blockers help with test-related anxiety? How do beta-blockers work? Which are some most used beta-blockers used for anxiety? How can beta-blockers be taken for test-related anxiety? What are the side effects of beta-blockers used for anxiety? What are the symptoms of test-related anxiety? What are the other ways to manage test-related anxiety? What are the therapy options for test-related anxiety?

Can beta blockers help with test-related anxiety?

Beta-blockers can help to tackle test-related anxiety by managing some of the person’s physical reactions to anxiety rather than the underlying psychological cause of anxiety. For instance, it helps to reduce a person’s increased heart rate, trembling and shaking, dizziness and sweating.

Beta-blockers can help with test-related anxiety by reducing a person’s physical reaction to stress and making them feel less anxious during the test. As beta-blockers are well known for managing short-term anxiousness about particular events such as an upcoming test it is best suited for test-related anxiety.

For instance, a student or any other potential candidate can take a beta-blocker before going for the test if the test is something that’s creating a sense of anxiousness and fear in them.

Propranolol and atenolol are two beta-blockers that are often prescribed to help with anxiety and can be used by those experiencing test-related anxiety.

A supporting study also indicated that beta-blockers are very effective in treating anxiety disorders similar to those of benzodiazepines.

However one must keep in mind that different medications work differently for people with the same mental health issues such as test-related anxiety or other anxiety-related issues. In that, what works best for one person might not bring about the required relief in another.

Thus a person must consider other treatment options such as therapy and self-help techniques for treating their test-related anxieties for a holistic and long-term approach.

How do beta-blockers work?

Beta-blockers are commonly called by the name Beta-adrenergic blocking agents. Their working mechanism follows the prevention of adrenaline a stress-related hormone from contacting the heart’s beta receptors. This prevents adrenaline from making the heart pump faster.

Apart from relaxing one’s heart beta-blockers also helps to calm down the blood vessels which help to reduce the blood flow and resulting blood pressure.

Almost all beta-blockers are used to treat anxiety and are prescribed off-label. Off-label drugs are those drugs that have been approved by the FDA for one purpose and it’s being used for a different purpose that hasn’t been approved by them.

Which are some most used beta-blockers used for anxiety?

  • Propranolol(Inderal)
  • Atenolol(Tenormin)
  • Acebutolol (Sectral)
  • Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • Carvedilol (Coreg)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor)

All these beta-blockers used to treat anxiety are prescribed off-label. Propranolol and atenolol are two beta-blockers that are often prescribed to help with anxiety than the others.

How can beta-blockers be taken for test-related anxiety?

Atenolol and propranolol come in the form of a bill. The dosage of these beta-blockers depends on a person’s medical history and the type of beta-blocker that they are consuming. A person must be aware of the negative effects that they can experience due to overdosing, hence they must stick to the doctor’s prescription.

Depending on a person’s symptoms and severity a mental health professional might suggest a person beta-blockers regularly or just before a stressful event such as a test.

Beta-blockers when taken in combination with therapy, lifestyle changes, and self-help strategies are looked at as a holistic approach to dealing with anxiety-related concerns.


What are the side effects of beta-blockers used for anxiety?

Beta-blockers that are used for anxiety-related issues might have some effects especially during the initial stages of their consumption such as:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Depression
  • Cold feet and hands
  • Shortness of breath
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

some serious side effects of beta-blockers could involve:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood sugar
  • Asthma attack
  • Swelling and fluid retention
  • Weight gain

Individuals who experience mild, moderate, and severe side effects of beta-blocker must immediately consult their medical health practitioners as some side effects of beta-blockers might cause anxiety symptoms in a person making a situation even worse.

What are the symptoms of test-related anxiety?

Some symptoms of test-related anxiety are:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Low self-esteem
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Increased levels of distress
  • Feeling of inadequacy


What are the other ways to manage test-related anxiety?

Some strategies that students can adopt to reduce their test anxiety are:

  • Learn efficient study techniques
  • Adopt simple learning strategies
  • Develop a consistent routine
  • Seek active help from your teachers
  • Equip yourself with relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing
  • Keep yourself hydrated and full with healthy food supplies and water
  • Carry out some exercises to elevate mood and positive feelings
  • Get a sufficient amount of sleep for about 6 to 8 hours.

What are some other ways to manage test-related anxiety?

Identify and acknowledge the triggers

The most significant strategy that can be used to control one’s anxiety is by identifying and acknowledging those triggers.

Being able to recognize what makes an individual anxious makes them better equipped to take action.

Relaxation techniques


Even though anxiety can be bought under an individual’s control it cannot be predicted. In such situations, it is necessary that an individual actively carries out relaxation techniques.

These might include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing which helps to reduce the intensity of anxiety within a short period.



A key to reducing the frequency and intensity of anxiety attacks could be spending time with close family and friends.

The kind of emotional and practical support provided by these social and personal groups help the person feel connected and aid in distracting one’s mind from negative and recurring thoughts that lead to anxiety.

Apart from friends and families, individuals can also consider speaking to groups of people that are experiencing similar problems.

Set realistic goals

When an individual is feeling overwhelmed, setting goals and targets keeping in mind priorities can help resolve overwhelming feelings of fear or panic.

Setting goals provides structure and routine to an individual’s life reducing space for uncertainty which can be a major trigger for anxiety in many cases.

Take up new challenges

Apart from doing activities that an individual is usually fond of and has expertise in, trying new and challenging activities that put an individual outside their comfort zone in a healthy manner may help reduce the stress and anger temporarily.

Signing up for new activities also provides a path to meeting people with similar stories and concerns.

Lifestyle changes

An individual’s lifestyle plays a major role in their experience of anxiety. An unhealthy and busy lifestyle usually leads to unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of adequate sleep.

A combination of a well-set diet, exercise, and sleep can help to regulate an individual’s mood and equip them with a favorable coping mechanism.

These coping mechanisms in turn help to get control over once anxiety concerns in a more adaptable manner.

lack of proper diet, sleep, and exercise can make an individual sluggish, dependent, moody and vulnerable to anxiety attacks.

Making journal entries

Last but not least having a journal to write down how a person is feeling and thinking when they are anxious helps them to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings.

Putting down one’s thoughts and feelings onto a paper helps to provide a sense of temporary relief.

In the case of journal entry, a person does not even have to fear being judged by another person regarding their thoughts and feelings.

What are the therapy options for test-related anxiety?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy helps an individual to control their anxiety by using strategies like relaxation and breathing. It works on the principles of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a kind of therapy in which an individual is exposed to a particular stimulus that they usually fear or are anxious about in a graded order.

As and when the individual gets comfortable with the situation or stimulus introduced or exposed to them with each session, individuals get more comfortable with a real-life situation that might have otherwise been a source for triggering anxiety.

Group therapy


It is based on the principle that when an individual interacts with other people who are suffering from the same fears they might not feel left alone or isolated. Group therapy usually involves a group of individuals who are experiencing similar symptoms and problems.


Anxiety can also be treated with the help of medication prescribed by a health care professional.

Though medication alone cannot help in reducing persistent anxiety it can help in restoring a sense of control and bring temporary relief. 

Online therapy  

In cases where reaching out physically to a professional is impossible or discomforting an individual can opt to seek help through the online medium. 

In this, the therapy sessions are carried out one-to-one over a video or audio call. Some individuals also prefer interacting with the therapist through text as well due to various reasons. One of the most common is the fear of being judged by the therapist or some personal hesitation. 

Online therapy can help individuals to regulate some aspects of their anxiety that aids individuals in carrying out a stress-free life over time


Beta-blockers might be helpful for those experiencing test-related anxieties to manage their symptoms just before their test. Beta-blockers are proven to be an effective treatment option for short-term anxiety-related issues especially before triggering an event such as a test.

However, a person must be aware that beta-blockers can’t be used as a long-term treatment rather must be used in combination with therapy and other lifestyle changes and self-help techniques.

Frequently asked questions

Which medication helps with test anxiety?

A single dose of Propranolol can immediately bring about improved performance and decrease anxiety in students who experienced test anxiety.

How much Propranolol should you take for testing anxiety?

Using Propranolol to treat test anxiety depends on the prescription provided by the doctor which usually ranges from 10 milligrams to 80 milligrams one hour before the test

Can you take Ativan before an exam?

Taking Ativan before an exam might make a person feel sleepy, forgetful, and difficult to concentrate. A person must consult their doctor about their upcoming exams if they start taking Ativan.


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