Beta Blockers have been traditionally prescribed to treat people with a range of issues from heart conditions to glaucoma, high blood pressure, and even migraines. There have even been a number of famous actors and performers who used these medications to help ease their performance anxiety. However, one of the most novel and interesting uses for Beta Blockers today is an effort to help boost mood.
How Beta Blockers Work?
Very simply put, Beta Blockers are drugs, or medications also known as beta-adrenergic agents. What they do is block or inhibit specific brain chemicals called neurotransmitters from binding to beta receptors on the nerves. These chemicals are primarily Norepinephrine and Epinephrine, along with Adrenaline to a certain degree.
These beta receptors are located in different places throughout the body, including the heart, eyes, kidneys, lungs, liver, blood vessels, and fat cells. Of course, the most important of these receptors are perhaps located in the brain. For the most part, these blocking effects tend to reduce heart rate and blood pressure by dilating blood vessels.
The Role of Serotonin:
One thought as to why or how Beta Blockers can actually lead to an improved mood is through the action of another neurotransmitter called Serotonin. Serotonin is primarily responsible for regulating things like mood and wake-sleep cycles. Serotonin normally works in conjunction with Norepinephrine. Since the Betas effectively block the action of Norepinephrine (and Adrenaline), Serotonin may actually rush in to take up some of the slack. As this happens, the brain will get a jolt and it can have the effect of reducing anxiety and stress and leading to a feeling of overall well-being.
Other Effects of Beta Blockers:
It is also interesting to note that these medications can have a number of other side effects. For example, it may lead to a slight increase in triglyceride levels and even a lowering of the ‘good’ cholesterol. However, in most cases, these effects are temporary. If you find yourself feeling tired, or having headaches and cold hands or feet, it may be a sign that you are taking too much. Be sure to check with a doctor or qualified medical professional before attempting to use Beta Blockers for an ‘off-label’ purpose like boosting mood.