Acebutolol for Anxiety – Benefits, Side Effects, Risks & Alternatives

Acebutolol (Sectral) is a beta-blocker medication that many people (particularly performers such as singers, musicians, speakers and sales execs) use ‘off-script’ to help them manage their anxiety symptoms, be it performance anxiety, social anxiety or generalized anxiety. Here we look at how Acebutolol works to help with anxiety and stage fright issues, consider if it is a safe and effective medication to use, understand ideal acebutolol dosage for anxiety purposes, and look at some natural alternatives to the prescription beta-blocker.

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Acebutolol for Anxiety Key Takeaways

Without revealing the whole article, here are the most interesting & useful takeways about Acebutolol for Anxiety:

  • Acebutolol is a prescription cardioselective beta blocker sold under the brand name Sectral
  • Acebutolol works by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) on the heart and blood vessels. This effect lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and strain on the heart
  • Blocking the effects of adrenaline on the heart is also a fairly effective way to block the symptoms of performance anxiety on the body, and that is why so many people use beta blockers like Acebutolol to help them with stage fright and anxiety issues. It is a relatively side-effect free way of blocking the main anxiety symptoms, but there are a few downsides and alternatives should always be considered

Are you considering trying Acebutolol (Sectral) to help with your anxiety issues? Perhaps you get a blast of nerves and anxiety whenever you have to go on stage and perform in front of an audience? Or maybe you find social situations like dates, dinner parties and impromptu social gatherings leave you mentally drained and worse-off at the end of the night?

Whatever the reason; you should know that many performers (musicians, public speakers, executives giving presentations, actors, etc) use beta-blockers such as Acebutolol to help them fight stage fright, social anxiety and general performance anxiety issues (we have an article covering all of the other beta blockers used for anxiety that you can read here).

You are likely here because you want to know what Acebutolol is, if it can help with your performance/social/general anxiety issues and, if so, how it works. You probably also want to know if there are any side-effects to acebutolol, what the correct dosages are for anxiety and how it compares to alternative anxiety solutions out there.

Here we will cover all of that! So lets start by explaining what acebutolol is:

What is Acebutolol?

Acebutolol, commonly sold under the brand name Sectral, is a prescription drug that was initially developed to treat cardiac issues such as high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) [1].

Is Acebutolol a beta-blocker?

Yes, Acebutolol is a member of the cardioselective beta blockers drug class [2].

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How does Acebutolol work?

Acebutolol, like other beta-blockers such as Propranolol & Metoprolol, works by blocking the action of certain natural substances & hormones in your body, such as epinephrine (adrenaline), on the heart and blood vessels. This effect lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and strain on the heart [1].

To get more specific: there are adrenergic receptors in the heart known as beta receptors [3]. Adrenaline, which is a stress-related hormone, binds to these beta receptors in the heart to make it pump harder and faster.

When your body experience a stress response, it responds by elevating adrenaline levels, which results in symptoms like racing heartbeat and higher blood pressure [4].

By blocking the release of adrenaline, beta-blockers like Acebutolol prevent the hormone from binding with the beta-receptors in the heart. As a result, the heart can pump blood with less force, which has an overall relaxing effect on your cardiovascular system, including the blood vessels.

Elevated blood pressure is often a result of tightened blood vessels. Relaxing the blood vessels can have a lowering effect on your blood pressure [4].

Can Acebutolol help with anxiety & why do performers take Acebutolol?

As stated, beta-blockers relax the load on your cardiovascular system by blocking the effects of the adrenaline hormone. This has major benefits for anyone about to enter a high-anxiety situation [5].

When preparing for a high-pressure scenario such as giving a talk in front of a large audience, or auditioning or playing music on stage, it’s expected that you will feel a certain level of stress. In these scenarios, you’ll naturally feel an adrenaline rush as a part of that stress response.

So when you are experiencing anxiety — particularly performance anxiety or stage fright — this ‘stress response’ is going too far. The adrenaline hormone is having a much greater effect on you, which causes your heart rate to skyrocket, along with other symptoms of performance anxiety.

As beta-blockers like Acebutolol block the effects of adrenaline, it can also prevent you from experiencing the physical symptoms of performance anxiety.

Remaining physically calm has an overall calming effect, which then allows you to get through a high-pressure scenario. And that is why so many performers use beta blockers like Acebutolol to help them before getting on stage or facing a nerve-wracking event.

Recommended Acebutolol dosage for anxiety

Acebutolol only comes as an oral capsule, with capsules that range in strength from 200mg tablets to 400mg.

Generic recommended Acebutolol dosage is 400mg to start, taken once per day, or 200mg taken twice per day. This can vary, depending on what condition it’s being used to treat. An initial dose of 400mg is recommended for high blood pressure (hypertension), and may be increased to 600mg taken twice per day as needed, with the maintenance dose ranging from 400-800mg total per day.

When taking Acebutolol for anxiety, the recommended dosage is 200mg-400mg per day. Generally, the total daily dose shouldn’t be more than 800 mg [6].

Before deciding to take Acebutolol for anxiety, it is important to check with your doctor to ensure the intended dosage is safe, and will not cause interactions or issues with any other medication or health issues you may have.

How long does it take for acebutolol to work for anxiety?

Typically, as when used for heart rate and blood pressure, Acebutolol starts to work for anxiety after about 1.5 hours [7].

Downsides & side-effects of using Acebutolol for anxiety

Beta-blockers like Acebutolol are, in general,relatively safe. But here are some of the potential, albeit rare, side effects of Acebutolol. Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur [8]:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)

Severe side effects are quite rare, but if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking Acebutolol, be sure to contact your doctor immediately [8]:

  • Shortness of breath (even with mild exertion), swelling, rapid weight gain
  • New or worsening chest pain
  • Slow heartbeats
  • A light-headed feeling, like you might pass out
  • Dangerously high blood pressure, severe headaches, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears, nosebleed, anxiety, confusion, severe chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats

The above is not a complete list of side effects for acebutolol and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about any side effects, if in doubt.

Acebutolol requires a prescription

You should note that, assuming your doctor approves of you taking Acebutolol (or any other beta-blockers) for your anxiety, and writes a prescription, you will have to refill that prescription every time you run out.

This will not be an issue if you only plan on using Acebutolol a few times, but if you start using the medication more often, then it could become a significant inconvenience.

Natural alternatives to Acebutolol

At this point there are likely some reading that think it’s worth trying to find some natural alternatives to beta-blockers like Acebutolol. The obvious advantage to natural alternatives being that you won’t need a prescription, and of course it should be (more) beneficial to your health.

The other benefit to a natural alternative is that you’re strengthening your mind and body to be less susceptible to stress, and also better equipped to handle a stress response. So instead of artificially blocking the release of adrenaline with beta-blockers, you will be releasing less adrenaline in the first place, and therefore experiencing less anxiety symptoms [9].

PerformZen as an alternative to Acebutolol for Anxiety

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PerformZen is a supplement designed to help performers reduce anxiety so they can perform at their highest level.

Whether you’re a speaker, musician, professional athlete, or a university student, you could most likely benefit from a higher level of calmness and mental focus when you have to perform under pressure.

Here are the ingredients in PerformZen that promote calmness, focus, and even better cognitive function:

GABA

GABA, or Gamma-aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid that has been shown to reduce activity levels of neurons in the nervous system. As a result, GABA promotes relaxation and calmness [10]. Studies show that GABA works as a natural relaxant in stressful situations.

GABA also promotes alpha wave activity in the brain, which is a brain frequency that is linked to a state of wakeful alertness and creativity [11]. This state is often referred to as the “flow state”, which is where performers like musicians and athletes perform at their best.

L-theanine

L-theanine is another amino acid that boosts GABA levels in the body to promote relaxation and calmness [12]. It works as an adaptogen, which is a substance that helps balance mood and reduces stress. Additionally, L-theanine also increases alpha waves in the brain to improve alertness and creativity.

Magnesium

Magnesium can be beneficial to those with performance anxiety in a couple of different ways.

Magnesium makes GABA more bio-available to your body.

PerformZen boosts GABA through its ingredients like GABA and L-theanine. Then, magnesium facilitates better absorption of GABA by stimulating receptors in your body to absorb GABA better [13]. As a result, you may experience a more potent effect of GABA.

Magnesium also works synergistically with vitamin B6, which is another ingredient in PerformZen.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 combines with magnesium to improve focus and attention. One study also showed that magnesium, when combined with vitamin B6, improved behavioral disorder in children with ADHD syndrome (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) [14].

Although the study was focused on kids with ADHD, the findings suggest that the combination of magnesium and B6 would benefit those with performance anxiety. When you’re focused on the task at hand (performing, writing, playing a sport), your attention will shift away from the negative thought patterns responsible for your anxiety.

Additionally, vitamin B6 also helps naturally synthesize GABA within your body, and low levels of B6 has been linked with increased stress levels [15].

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba has been traditionally used for healing purposes in Chinese medicine. It is a herb rich in antioxidants that has various benefits for brain health.

One of the benefits of Ginkgo Biloba is that it reduces stress hormone levels [16]. Since stress response is what causes the physical symptoms of performance anxiety, managing stress hormones will prevent stage fright symptoms from manifesting.

Theacrine

Theacrine is a natural substance that is similar to caffeine. It is often described as caffeine without the fluctuations in energy levels [17]. Theacrine will enhance mental clarity and elevate your mood just like caffeine, and provide a steady boost in energy. It’s the perfect “pick-me-up” before a performance, exam, or a date.

Conclusion: Can Acebutolol actually help with anxiety?

For many people, anxiety (of all kinds: performance anxiety, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, etc) can be debilitating to the point where it becomes impossible to perform or function on a consistent basis. For others, anxiety prevents them from performing at their highest level.

And for a countless number of people, anxiety might hold them back from landing their dream job, closing a sale, or getting a second date.

If you’re someone that suffers from a severe case of the jitters, beta-blockers like Acebutolol can provide a much-needed relief from the physical symptoms so you can get through what you need to do.

If you’re considering Acebutolol, be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure it is right for you. Otherwise, if you’d rather go with a natural supplement, consider giving PerformZen a try.


Eric is a performance expert and a member of the PerformZen team since it was founded. Eric has battled anxiety his entire life and he is passionate about helping people gain control over the things that they fear most, with anxiety being at the top of that list for many!

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