Can Propranolol cause hallucinations? (3 research studies revealed the truth) 

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Page last updated: 23/09/2022

In this blog post, we are going to answer the question, “Can Propranolol cause hallucinations?”. Propranolol is one of the most commonly prescribed beta-blockers which can be used to treat a number of health conditions. 

However, Propranolol can cause a number of side effects, including auditory and visual hallucinations. This blog will cover all there is to know about Propranolol induced hallucinations. 

Can Propranolol cause hallucinations?

Yes, Propranolol can cause hallucinations in some individuals. It is not considered as one of the common side effects. However, there are many case studies in which people not only experienced visual hallucinations, but they also suffered from olfactory (sense of smell) and auditory (sense of hearing) hallucinations. 

What does research suggest? 

Several research studies have investigated the hallucinogenic effects of Propranolol. A recent 2021 case study included a man who was suffering from liver cirrhosis. His liver was damaged as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. 

The patient was presented with the complications of hepatic encephalopathy. It is a known fact that hepatic encephalopathy is a condition which is itself associated with hallucinations. 

The patient also showed signs of varices, which is a common complication associated with liver cirrhosis, but they were not bleeding. To prevent that, Propranolol was given. Soon after the medication was started, the patient started showing signs of visual and auditory hallucinations. 

He would listen to people talking when there was no one around. He would see things that were not even there. Initially, hepatic encephalopathy was considered a culprit as it can be a cause of hallucinations as well.

Later, it was determined that the stage or level at which hepatic encephalopathy was, it could not have caused hallucinations. This is when it was realised that Propranolol was the actual cause of this effect. It was then discontinued and the patient was shifted to Carvedilol. 

Another case was studied in 2018, in which a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease showed symptoms of hallucinations. The hallucinations were not related to his PD because he had been taking Propranolol to control his blood pressure and arrhythmia. 

The patient was in a weird state of mind. He kind of knew when he used to hallucinate and he could differentiate from reality and the imagination. However, this started getting worse by the day and the patient started to have hallucinations that would last for several minutes. 

This is when his treatment with Propranolol was stopped and his doctors switched him to Candesartan, which is also used to treat conditions that Propranolol treats. After the discontinuation of Propranolol, hallucinations begin to fade away in around 1-2 weeks. 

Another research study indicated that Propranolol can cause severe olfactory hallucinations in some people. They began to smell rotten things while other people around them claimed that there was no such smell around them. 

All of these research studies and cases have somehow confirmed that Propranolol is capable of causing different types of hallucinations with varying intensity. 

However, this is not a common side effect and there is no way to predict what person is going to the one who would suffer from such disturbing side effects. If you begin to see or hear things that aren’t really real, immediately contact your healthcare provider. 

Many doctors have revealed that visual hallucinations can scare people and they start to ruin their mental health significantly. We can all imagine how we would feel if we begin to see unknown people walking around in our house or talking to us. 

We would just freak out, right? If you can’t differentiate between what’s real and what’s in your head, this entire situation is enough to make you crazy or manic on its own. 

Can Propranolol cause hallucinations? (3 research studies revealed the truth) 

What to do if you suffer from Propranolol induced hallucinations? 

The first and the most important approach to get rid of Propranolol induced hallucinations is to talk to your healthcare provider. Your doctor will determine the safety and efficacy of Propranolol in your case and the severity of side effects is also considered.

If you only hallucinate for a week or two or until your body adjusts to Propranolol then your doctor may ask you to continue the treatment with this medication. However, if this persists or gets worse with time, your doctor will taper it off, if needed, and will switch you to another, safer option. 

Just make sure you stick to the doctor’s direction. In some studies it was observed that hallucinations start to develop after some time. They did not start right after taking the first Propranolol dose and the person taking it seemed to tolerate the drug pretty well. 

However, things started to go south after taking Propranolol for about 3 to 4 months. So, if you start exhibiting signs of hallucinations after a relatively longer period of time, it is not suitable to stop the drug right away. 

You need to know the dangers associated with abrupt withdrawal of Propranolol. Propranolol is associated with disturbing withdrawal symptoms, and most of those symptoms are cardiac-related. If you discontinue using this med suddenly, you may suffer from some of the symptoms. 

However, it varies greatly from person to person. Some people may not feel much, while others may get affected severely. It totally depends on how sensitive you are. 

It may not affect people with shorter duration of treatment that much, but people who have been using Propranolol for a while are more dependent on the medication. 

It is a known fact that whenever you start taking Propranolol or any other medication, it’s new for your body. Your body is not used to this foreign agent that can make chemical changes in it. This is why your body may take some time to adjust to the new med. 

Once it does, it starts considering the medication as a part of its system. This is how your body becomes dependent on the medication for the type of effects it produces. In the case of Propranolol, the drug keeps your heartbeat and blood pressure normal. 

If you continue to use it for a longer period of time, your body starts depending on it for normal cardiac functions. If we talk about withdrawal symptoms, they are basically cardiac-related symptoms and may become extremely serious for a cardiac patient with an active disease. 

Some of the withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abnormally high blood pressure
  • Worsen angina
  • Chest pain
  • Increased risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Severe lightheadedness
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety and agitation 

These symptoms, as stated earlier, can be nerve-racking for some people. Propranolol is known to have anxiolytic effects as well, which means the drug can actively control your anxiety. When you stop it suddenly, you may feel your anxiety levels getting higher and higher

Make sure you stick to your medication if you wish to achieve your therapeutic goals. If you feel you have been impacted negatively by the drug, then consult your healthcare provider as soon as you can and discuss the safety and efficacy of Propranolol in your case. 

Propranolol is used for a number of conditions which may start to get worse if you stop using this medication abruptly. Health conditions that are treated by Propranolol include:

  • High blood pressure 
  • Angina pectoris
  • Management of congestive heart failure 
  • Arrhythmia or irregular heart beat
  • Myocardial infarction 
  • Tachycardia 
  • Coronary artery diseases 
  • Glaucoma
  • Migraine 
  • Anxiety 
  • Essential tremors 

Conclusion 

In this blog post, we have discussed Propranolol induced hallucinations. It is not considered as one of the common side effects. However, there are many case studies in which people not only experienced visual hallucinations, but they also suffered from olfactory (sense of smell) and auditory (sense of hearing) hallucinations. 

We have learned about 3 such cases today and each case study had different circumstances. It was observed that the hallucinations were directly connected to the use of Propranolol and no matter what the condition initially was, hallucinations began after using Propranolol.

Make sure you immediately report to your healthcare provider if any such thing happens to you. 

FAQs: propranolol hallucinations 

Can propranolol cause hallucinations?

Yes, Propranolol can cause hallucinations in some individuals. It is not considered as one of the common side effects. However, there are many case studies in which people not only experienced visual hallucinations, but they also suffered from olfactory (sense of smell) and auditory (sense of hearing) hallucinations. 

Can beta blockers cause hallucinations?

Yes, beta-blockers can cause hallucinations. There are many research studies that have backed up on this side effect and have revealed that this side effect can happen to everyone, healthy as well as diseased people. It is impossible to predict how your body will react once it is exposed to this medication. Make sure you immediately report to your healthcare provider if any such thing happens to you. 

Can propranolol cause schizophrenia?

Propranolol is associated with some symptoms related to psychosis and mania. Some case studies have also revealed that erratic behaviour can occur after the use of Propranolol in some patients. 

Does propranolol last all day?

Propranolol usually stays in your system for about a day or two. Propranolol has a half-life of about 3-6 hours, which means that the concentration of the drug is reduced to half after this time period. The remaining concentration is then further reduced to half after the next 3 to 6 hours. This process keeps on going until Propranolol is completely removed from your system.

How long does it take to come off propranolol?

Propranolol withdrawal symptoms can last 10 to 15 days after you stop using the medication. Propranolol usually stays in your system for about a day or two. Propranolol has a half-life of about 3-6 hours, which means that the concentration of the drug is reduced to half after this time period. 

The remaining concentration is then further reduced to half after the next 3 to 6 hours. This process keeps on going until Propranolol is completely removed from your system. Make sure you don’t stop this medication abruptly. 

References 

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