Propranolol Erases The Fear Associated With Memories | My PTSD Forum

Had another medical appointment today in order to find ways of attenuating or possibly healing the physical responses associated with triggering events and memories. The doc suggested a medical path, remembering a once “en vogue” and rediscovered treatment for returning veterans:

Propranolol Erases The Fear Associated With Memories | My PTSD Forum.

The medication is known to treat people with a heart condition or high blood pressure. It’s also being applied as “off label” use for patients suffering from symptoms of PTSD. He suggested I familiarize myself with this medication and do my research before making a decision. This is actually beginning to sound plausible to me, provided I don’t display side effects to the medication, which I have often times in the past, e.g. to SSRI’s and anti depressants. But o.k. – there’s a new trace of silverlining. Why not? If any of my readers have personal experience with this form of treatment or know someone who has undergone it, please feel free to comment in detail. Thanks!


9 thoughts on “Propranolol Erases The Fear Associated With Memories | My PTSD Forum

  1. Hi Late Shift—I haven’t taken Propranolol so I cannot help with any personal testimony. Sorry. But I am curious about how it would be administered, in terms of timing. Would you take this medication, for instance at the first sign of physiological responses such as increased heart rate, trembling, hyper respiratory rate, etc. or maybe when you become aware of the emotional response (felling frightened or terrified,) such as when awakening from a nightmare? In other words, administered on a PRN (or as-needed) basis?. Or perhaps would the drug be used as more of a maintenance-type medication that you would take on a regular schedule? Also, since your have a history of problematic side effects to certain classes of drugs, did your doctor mention the possibility of starting with a sub-clinical dose?Sometimes, for reasons not fully understood (at least by me), in terms of dosage. taking less than the standard-prescribed dose,, or even much less, can work more effectively.

    By the way, I am a licensed Registered Nurse (RN), (but unemployed, of course), and I like to take mental notes on details like these in case an acquaintance or family member has a personal-based inquiry or they just want to play a round of the classic parlor game, “Let’s stump the Nurse!” (hahaha), and so, anyway, I have a tendency to ask clinical questions, like the above,,which can easily be perceived as TOO DAMN INTRUSIVE, If that’s the case, here, you are welcome to tell me (politely if possible) to go to hell. 🙂 .

    • Hi hopefulandfree,
      thanks for taking the time to read and comment. To answer your question, apparently it’s crucial to take the medication prior to a situation that might trigger unresolved fears and physical fear responses. The linked source says this about your question:

      “By giving it to people before they recalled a scary memory about a spider, they could erase the fearful response it triggered.”

      Now… I understand that in a clinical study this timing is easy to control, i.e.: They knew they were going to expose them to an experience with “trigger potential”. However, in real life situations, I’d assume it to be much harder to control the timing. So before I continue let me thank you for bringing this thought and question up, because it will help me to make a decision as to the prospects of this treatment. Because here’s the thing: From almost 50 years of having lived with this debilitating condition, I have a pretty good grasp of the type of situations that trigger me and to what degree they do that. However – and that’s the hard part – if I don’t build my life around the condition, it is hard to nearly impossible to know, exactly WHEN those triggers happen and kick in! In other words: If I don’t succumb to anxious anticipation – also dubbed “fear of fear”, which unfortunately has been the case with my for the past 7 years… – and if I sort of “force” myself not to think about potential triggers happening at any time, I become more vulnerable to them. But how am I going to know in advance that they will occur? If I did, I’d probably make a comfty living as a “seer”, telling people in advance what is about to happen… uhm… NOT!

      So yeah, you’re making an excellent point and raising an important question I will have to ask the doc who suggested the treatment in the first place. Will it be about “training” the mind, in terms of thinking of a triggering situation, similar to EMDR sessions, after one has taken the pill? Or how is the process going to work at all?

      Excellent thinking on your part, hopefulandfree! This will help to determine, whether this can be a path to recovery or not. Also, because I assume this to be associated with the risks of possibly severe side effects in my case, as I have seldomly responded to chemical-based medication in good as in: tolerable ways.

      Thanks for bringing it up! I might get around to your replies to my comments on your own blog some time later, just letting you know that I noticed them. 🙂 (I would never tell you to go to hell. And if so – politely LOL )

    • P.S. So I guess in my case with complex PTSD AND PTSD, it would have to be administered on a more or less ongoing basis by exploring my physical tolerance level (i.e. dosage) until I reach relief. Or something like that. And from remembering the inital talk we had about that, I think that’s pretty much what he suggested anyway. Hm. There are other things involved that make this not an easy decision to make. But I seem to have run out of other options as it is. So there’s not much left to lose anyway…. Again, thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Oh, sorry I didn’t notice the link before asking my questions. I’ve been staring at the screen too long and, frankly, everything is blurry lately. But it sounds as if a short term trial (say 4–6 weeks depending on how you tolerate it, wouldn’t be too risky and just might help. Good luck with your decision.

  3. Hi again! 🙂 I hope you’re okay and I want to tell you I’m thinking of you…and also wondering about something which I realize may seem inappropriate to ask and/or may seem way too far “off topic”—or it may be something you’ve discussed in one or more previous posts. Anyway, I won’t feel offended if you would rather not reply.

    I’m wondering if there are any kinds of “support groups” in your general vicinity (more or less near where you live) for people with PTSD and/or for people with disabling/complex trauma/stress conditions…And, if so, might such groups be accessible/affordable (for you)? I’m wondering partly because because, for me, the isolation and feelings of alienation associated with my own history of extreme trauma and stress have often made my struggles with these extreme trauma issues even more painful, difficult and disabling.

    For me, discovering you and your blog (and reading about your struggles and then sharing some thoughts back and forth) have been surprisingly emancipatory and liberating experiences. To be able to identify so strongly with another (who knows first hand—personally and profoundly—what these struggles mean in terms of one’s whole life and also one’s daily reality) has been for me a true gift.

    I cannot help but imagine that similar kinds of face to face (“real life”) encounters might in some cases prove extraordinarily helpful and might feel very healing even though of course these meetings (shared “experience, strength, and hope”) wouldn’t “fix” or even alleviate truly disabling physiological responses and conditions. I have benefited, too, from some recent, cautiously limited, experiences in small meetings of “12-step” groups even though the sharing didn’t focus specifically on PTSD or extreme trauma. Many people who shared their experiences had brutal childhoods or traumatic war-time experiences.

    I hope I haven’t said anything insensitive or hurtful or just plain annoying (or irritatingly too WORDY) here. Please feel guiltlessly and utterly free, of course, to “evaporate” my comment into the nether realms of cyber space if you so desire. 🙂

    • Hi hopefulandfree,

      no worries about being insensitive, quite on the contrary! I have to be brief, since I got a full day ahead – so please don’t take my brief answer as disregard of your implied and kind suggestion, o.k.?

      I have been looking for support groups in my vicinity, but found none catering to people suffering from PTSD – or more accurately in my case: C-PTSD. (actually, great thinking on your part, this was one of my first “lines of defense” in terms of battling this when realizing, hospital wouldn’T be an option and other options fell away one by one.).

      Right now, I’m in a place, where i’m no longer too sure, what benefit such meetings might have. I’m zeroing in on putting it all behind me like I have been doing before, in terms of simply doing my best to hide the condition and pretend, I functioned like everybody else. In retrospect, I was way better when I just went about my goals and did the things I thought I was being passionate about. Whether this approach will still work after so many let-downs and bitter experiences in my adult life – I’m not sure and it scares me to hell knowing that I’ll be all on my own again, with practically zero support or worse: Risking to be singled out again for one or the other “peculiarity” that the condition may have produced and left me behind with.

      Like I said, unfortunately can’T go into detail right now, so the nutshell version is: No, there aren’t (and I’ve looked).

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with support groups and for your kind words on the effects my blog has on you. That was actually the main idea behind it: That someone else – or more than one person – might find anything I shared helpful and ideally productive in terms of managing this oftentimes brutal condition and the destiny it came from…


  4. Thanks for your reply! Oh, yes, I TOO GET IT about focusing as best I can on “goals” and pursuing things I feel “passionate about….especially if the alternative is to focus so much on what I CAN’T do that I forget my strengths completely. Also, some groups or meetings can be a huge downer and some meetings made me more depressed—surprisingly those were with a group that I thought would be the most healing, a women’s group for survivors of sexual assaults and abuse, Those just brought up shitty feelings that I don’t want to keep rehashing.

    Some days and weeks it’s all baby steps for me to get anywhere, and sometimes it all scares the “hell” out of me, too…especially material uncertainty and when I somehow muster the courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and just let go of whatever the outcome is gonna be, I get a glimpse of an okay life, just as I now feel a change in my attitude as a result of watching your strengths in the midst of struggle. Sounds like you are facing those big waves coming at you and not getting sucked under (just maybe knocked around, hopefully very briefly). 🙂

    I’m sorry to hear about the scary stuff related to lack of support. Sometimes there’s a price to cutting off (having no contact) with perpetrators but if it can be done, then it can be a powerful choice.And you can OWN that accomplishment. It has been good for me to keep the “bad guy” out of my life as much as possible. As always, my wishes to you for more triumphs (small or big…they’re all good) and more peace of mind in your near future.,

    Hugs, hopefulandfree

  5. Thank you so much for your very understanding, compassionate and wise words, hopefulandfree – I think, we’re pretty much on the same page in regards to our experiences with groups – I very much concur on what you said, especially the downer and rehashing part! -, our own resources and strengths, our need to have faith in ourselves and as a result, the need to make some hard decisions for ourselves and our lives and with some people, yes. I second everything you say above and I would like to toss in the term “empowerment” and also “emancipation” – to keep empowering ourselves constantly and consistently and emancipate from the part we have previously played in that horrible dynamic between perpetrator and victim. “Victim no more”, I say! Whatever it takes… (within legal boundaries, of course 😉 ).

    Here’s to keep keeping on in fighting the good fight! xo

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