Is Propranolol an SSRI? (3+ Clinical uses of Propranolol) 

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In this blog post, we are going to answer the question, “Is Propranolol an SSRI?”. Propranolol is one of the most commonly prescribed medications and can be used in the treatment and management of many health conditions. This blog will cover the major differences between Propranolol and SSRIs. 

Is Propranolol an SSRI?

No, Propranolol is not a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is a beta-blocker or a beta-adrenergic blocker. It works by inhibiting the action of adrenaline or epinephrine, which is an important chemical related to the excitatory system in your body. 

Adrenaline can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety. This is what Propranolol works to counteract.

What are the clinical uses of Propranolol? 

Propranolol can be used for the treatment of the following health conditions:

Cardiovascular diseases 

Propranolol can be used primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. As stated earlier, it works to inhibit the effects of adrenaline on your heart. 

This way, Propranolol helps to reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also be used for the management of patients after a heart attack. It can be used to treat the following cardiac conditions:

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

Migraine 

Propranolol can also be used for the management and treatment of migraine or vestibular migraine. Propranolol is believed to inhibit the pain mediators which cause nerve-racking headaches associated with migraine. 

It can also be combined with other meds to work in the prophylaxis of this condition. However, it may not work in the same way for every other individual. If you’re taking Propranolol for migraine and you’re seeing little to no effects, talk to your doctor right away.

Glaucoma 

Propranolol is also used to treat glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition that is associated with increased intraocular pressure which can severely affect your eyes.

Propranolol may help dilate the vessels to decrease intraocular pressure and provide relief in your condition. However, it is not recommended to start using Propranolol for the treatment of glaucoma without your doctor’s approval. 

Anxiety

Propranolol can also be used to treat anxiety and agitation. The medication is believed to calm you down. This is because Propranolol can reduce the amount of some of the excitatory chemicals in your body. 

This way, it can control the excessive neuronal firing in your brain and help calm your nerves down. However, make sure you’re not using Propranolol without your doctor’s approval. The proper dose and its frequency must be determined by the healthcare provider carefully and according to the severity of your condition. 

Essential tremors 

Propranolol can be used for the treatment of tremors. Propranolol (Inderal) has proven in various clinical trials that it can help control the severity and involuntary jerks in your body. 

However, still more research is required to completely understand the safety and efficacy of Propranolol in the treatment and management of tremors. This is why do not start using Propranolol for the treatment of tremors without your doctor’s approval. 

What are the side effects associated with the use of Propranolol? 

Propranolol, like every other medication on this planet, is associated with some side effects. These side effects can affect people differently. Some people don’t even feel any difference after taking Propranolol, while others may feel significantly weird or unwell. 

Some of the common side effects of Propranolol include:

  • Xerostomia or dry mouth 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Constipation 
  • Flatulence 
  • Acid reflux 
  • Depression 
  • Fatigue 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Abnormal pain
  • Acid reflux 
  • Flu like symptoms 
  • Skin rash

Some serious side effects include:

  • Difficulty in breathing and chest tightness 
  • Swollen hands and feet as a result of an allergic reaction. 
  • Wheezing
  • Blackouts 
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Arrhythmia 

Always bear in mind that these side effects may not affect everyone in the same way. It is also very important to make sure that you are not using any other prescription medication along with your Propranolol. It is a strong beta-blocker. 

Sometimes it can be combined with other blood pressure lowering medications, but the combination may cause hypotension and may make your heart rate excessively slow. 

Propranolol can also react negatively with some other medications. This is why it is extremely important to give proper details and your medical history wherever you go to the doctor.

What are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)? 

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants. These meds work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT). 

This way more serotonin is available to bind to its respective receptors. Serotonin is an excitatory neurotransmitter responsible for modulating mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory and several other behavioural functions. The examples of SSRIs include:

  • Sertraline (Zoloft) 
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro) 
  • Citalopram (Celexa) 
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) 
  • Paroxetine (Paxil) 

All of the above mentioned meds are prescription medications that can be used for the treatment and management of the following mental and other health conditions:

Major depressive disorder (MDD) 

The primary function of SSRIs is to treat and manage mild to severe episodes of depression, including major depressive disorder (MDD). Depression is a nerve-racking, inevitable condition that affects millions of people every year. 

The physiological cause of this mental illness is the depletion of excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain. 

The chemicals which are responsible to elevate your mood and learning pathways become deficient and that’s how your mood and behavioural patterns start to go south. 

SSRIs work by increasing the stay time of these chemicals in the brain, either by inhibiting the reuptake and metabolism of the said excitatory chemicals. 

However, SSRIs do not work overnight. These meds can take as long as 8 weeks to kick in. This time duration can vary from person to person. Some people start to see the beneficial effects earlier than the others. 

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 

SSRIs are also used in the treatment and management of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In this condition, people exhibit signs of obsessive behaviours and intrusive thinking which, if becomes serious, can take a drastic turn. 

Such patients think of harming themselves and their loved ones. SSRIs control this compulsive attitude in around 6 to 8 weeks. 

The results of SSRIs are promising, but some people may fail to achieve any benefits from this class of antidepressants because they are not so easy to tolerate. However, they are still believed to be the safest class of antidepressants. 

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD)

SSRIs can also be used for the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD). These conditions can really mess up the personality and daily life activities of the affected individuals, but SSRIs can work amazingly to control the symptoms associated with these two conditions. 

Some SSRIs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of GAD and SAD, while others can be used off-label. Anyhow, all of them possess anxiolytic properties. 

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 

SSRIs can also be used for the treatment of Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It usually hits an individual after an unforgettable trauma like a deadly incident or loss of a loved one. 

This condition can affect your personality, confidence, sleep pattern, and mental health in general. Again, some SSRIs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of PTSD, while others can be used off-label. 

What are the side effects associated with the use of SSRIs? 

SSRIs are associated with the following side effects:

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea or Constipation 
  • Acid reflux or heartburn 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight gain or loss 
  • Excessive sweating or night sweating (nocturnal/night hyperhidrosis) 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Polydipsia or excessive thirst
  • Tremors 
  • Muscle twitching and pain
  • Drowsiness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Excessive tiredness or fatigue 
  • Insomnia or inability to fall asleep 
  • Xerostomia or dry mouth 
  • Dysmenorrhea or heavy periods
  • Flu like symptoms including irritation in eyes and runny nose
  • Loss of libido in both male and females. Males may suffer from inability to ejaculate, while females may suffer from inability to have an orgasm. 

Celexa (Citalopram) is also associated with some serious side effects, which may include:

  • Allergic reaction associated with symptoms like redness of skin, itching, burning sensation, blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness etc. 
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations 
  • Nose bleeds
  • Severe headache
  • Arrhythmia or abnormal heartbeats
  • Impaired memory and concentration 
  • Convulsions 
  • Swelling or tenderness in different parts of the body.

Conclusion 

In this blog post, we have discussed the differences between Propranolol and SSRIs. Propranolol is a beta-blocker or a beta-adrenergic blocker. It works by inhibiting the action of adrenaline or epinephrine, which is an important chemical related to the excitatory system in your body. 

SSRIs, on the other hand, are antidepressants. These meds work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT). 

Serotonin is an excitatory neurotransmitter responsible for modulating mood, cognition, reward, learning, memory and several other behavioural functions. Make sure you don’t take any of these meds without your doctor’s approval. 

FAQs: is propranolol an ssri 

What type of drug is propranolol?

Propranolol is a beta-blocker or a beta-adrenergic blocker. It works by inhibiting the action of adrenaline or epinephrine, which is an important chemical related to the excitatory system in your body. Adrenaline can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety. This is what Propranolol works to counteract.

Are beta blockers SSRIs? 

No, beta blockers are not SSRIs. Beta-blockers are prescription medications that are used for the treatment and management of cardiac conditions. SSRIs are antidepressants. They’re used to treat a variety of mental health conditions. 

Can you take propranolol with SSRIs?

Yes, you can take Propranolol with SSRIs, but only if prescribed by your healthcare provider. The two may interact somehow, which is why the appropriate dose and the timing of administration should be directed by your healthcare provider. 

Does propranolol increase serotonin?

No, Propranolol does not increase the level of serotonin in any way. It is a beta-blocker or a beta-adrenergic blocker. It works by inhibiting the action of adrenaline or epinephrine, which is an important chemical related to the excitatory system in your body. Adrenaline can increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety. This is what Propranolol works to counteract.

Does propranolol affect memory?

Yes, Propranolol can affect memory. It does possess some of the psychological side effects because of its ability to alter the amount of excitatory chemicals in your brain, through which it controls heart rate and anxiety. Propranolol has shown in some studies to cause memory loss in patients. This is why you should closely monitor your side effects while being treated with Propranolol. 

References 

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