beta blockers public speaking

Beta Blockers – public speaking: Why medication isn’t the best way forward

Read time: 3 minutes

Executive Summary

Beta Blockers for Public Speaking: Avoid Medication

  • Beta-blockers only address physical symptoms of anxiety, leaving mental and emotional effects unaddressed.
  • They may hinder performance by blocking adrenaline, which triggers peak performance energy.
  • Beta-blockers can have emotionally addictive and physical side effects, including memory loss, fatigue, and impotence.
  • We recommend a holistic approach that targets all aspects of public speaking anxiety, rather than relying solely on medication.

Read On

What Are Beta-Blockers?

Beta-blockers are so named because they stop adrenaline from binding to the beta receptors in our bodies. People say they prevent the physical symptoms of high anxiety by blocking the hormones in the sympathetic nervous system.

We are passionate about helping people. Finding a long-term permanent solution to public speaking anxiety is a holistic long-term approach not a temporary drug-based solution. So let me say before we start this blog we are biased! I do however understand why many might think it’s the answer and use it as a crutch. Below are my personal thoughts (speaking from a place where I’ve worked with some very senior clients from CEOs to business owners who used to take Beta Blockers when public speaking and now no longer need or want them).

Here are my top reasons Beta Blockers aren’t the way forward:

1) It only deals with some of the problems – Beta-blockers only target the physical effects but public speaking fear is more than that. Most people also suffer mental effects (such as focus, concentration and memory issues) and emotional effects (like self-doubt, self-criticism, over-analysis, and feelings of panic). The emotional and mental effects are not dealt with.

2) In my non-medical opinion, Beta Blockers could worsen your performance because it prevents you from using adrenaline to reach peak performance. It’s the hormones that allow you to access dynamic energy which puts you in your “flow”. Before they work with us clients have complained of “not remembering what they said” but if you are consistently getting good feedback (despite feeling very uncomfortable) then it’s likely your adrenaline is helping you to perform. Take it away and your performance will be impacted.

3) Taking the drug can result in emotionally addictive and physical side effects.

All my web research has had one theme in common – that medical supervision is advised (so don’t just take one from a well-meaning friend) because some conditions can cause an immediate adverse reaction.

A quick Google search suggests the drug is not physically addictive but suggests it can be emotionally addictive and I’d have to agree. I have worked with clients to help “wean” them off the drug (because they didn’t use to believe they could do it without popping the pill).

The web shows a list of possible side effects:

  • Feeling faint and dizzy
  • Feeling sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth, skin, and eyes
  • Memory loss
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight Gain
  • Impotence in Men
  • Depression
  • Loss of Libido in Women

Ironically those, especially at the top of the list, remind me of the very symptoms they are trying to get away from (see a different blog on 17 speech anxiety symptoms).

If you are taking Beta Blockers or are thinking of doing so and especially if you want to present or speak on a regular basis then fill in the contact form or call and let us help you the natural way.

Thanks to Bulletproofmusician.com for the inspiration for this article.

Author: Dee Clayton

Dee Clayton - Simply Amazing TrainingDee Clayton, an acclaimed coach and winner of the prestigious Overall National UK NBW Award in 2022, has over 30 years of experience in communication. With over half of her career as an author, mentor, and trainer. Dee offers a distinctive blend of skills and insights. Her mission is clear: to empower high-performing individuals to excel further, while guiding their teams to unprecedented success. Connect with Dee via LinkedIn.

Posted by Dee Clayton on 1 Sep 2017

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