How Long Does It Take for Propranolol to Work?

Published on: 28 Jun 2023
Clinically Reviewed by Cynthia V. Catchings LCSW-S
How Long Does it Take for Propranolol to Work

Propranolol medication blocks beta receptors, so it is primarily used to treat high blood pressure and various heart problems. While it can help alleviate heart condition symptoms like chest pain or migraine headaches, it’s also used off-label to treat (meaning it can be effective in treating but wasn’t initially indicated for) some mental health conditions, like anxiety and panic disorder. 

By blocking the effects of chemical messengers like noradrenaline and adrenaline, Propranolol can effectively reduce anxiety symptoms. It can slow a fast heart rate and lower blood pressure, reduce shaking, and stop you from sweating, all of which can be experienced during times of extreme stress or anxiety. 

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If your doctor has suggested you try Propranolol for anxiety, it’s normal to wonder how long it takes to work. How long does it take for Propranolol to work? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always straightforward. Everyone’s experience with Propranolol treatment will vary depending on factors like age, medical history, and dosage.  

Continue reading to learn what you can expect regarding how long for Propranolol to work, how to know if it’s working for you, and what to do if you feel like it isn’t helping reduce symptoms of anxiety

How Long Does It Take for Propranolol to Peak?

The peak effect of Propranolol for anxiety can vary depending on several elements, like:

  • Dosage
  • The form taken
  • How often it’s administered
  • Age
  • Other medicines being taken 

For immediate-release oral tablets taken by mouth, Propranolol typically reaches its peak concentration within 1 to 4 hours after ingestion, according to research. Studies show that Propranolol has a half-life of around 4 hours. This means its effects will wane about 4 hours after a dose. 

How Long Does It Take Propranolol to Work for Anxiety?

Propranolol for anxiety works by blocking the effects of adrenaline, which can reduce physical symptoms like a racing heart and trembling hands, or anxiety chest pain. When used for anxiety, Propranolol can start to work within an hour, which can be great for people with situational anxiety. The extended-release form of this medication can take longer to work but will also last longer, making it preferable for some people. 

It’s important to remember that everyone responds differently when taking medications like Propranolol, and anxiety disorder is not the same for all. What works for one person may not work as well (or at all) for another, like those who face social anxiety.  

How Do You Know If Propranolol Is Working?

You can assess how well Propranolol is working (or if it’s working at all) by monitoring your physical and emotional state over time when you take it.

For example, experiencing fewer physical symptoms associated with anxiety — like rapid heartbeat or trembling hands — indicates the drug is having a positive effect on your condition. Feeling more relaxed overall could also suggest that Propranolol is helping with your anxiety.

“It reduces the physical symptoms of anxiety such as heart racing, shaking, and feelings of restlessness. If you have concerns, please speak with your doctor.”

– Talkspace psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger

Factors that Affect the Onset of Action for Propranolol

Propranolol alters the hormones that can induce anxiety symptoms. While Propranolol can effectively treat symptoms like a fast heart rate or trembling, it doesn’t work instantly. Knowing what factors affect the onset of action for Propranolol can help you understand how long it will take before you start feeling better.

  • Dose: The amount of Propranolol your doctor prescribes significantly determines how quickly it will start working. Larger doses may be more potent but can also bring on other adverse Propranolol side effects. Rather than taking one large dose, your pharmacist or healthcare provider may suggest you take multiple smaller ones over the day.  
  • Form: Whether you have an extended-release or an immediate-release prescription can affect how long the drug will take to work. 
  • Other medications: Taking other medications might impact how and when Propranolol works. Always talk with your healthcare provider before taking new medication.

“Propranolol may not work if the dose is too low or if it’s combined with a medication that is counteracting its benefits like a stimulant (Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, etc.).”

– Talkspace psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger

What to Do When Propranolol is Not Working

When Propranolol is not working as expected, it can be frustrating. It isn’t always easy to figure out what might be affecting the drug’s potency or to address the problem if it isn’t helping.

Seeking out medical advice to determine if Propranolol treatment is ineffectual or if something else is going on is the primary step. If Propranolol isn’t producing the desired results, adjusting the dosage could be beneficial in maximizing its effectiveness. If you’ve been taking Propranolol for some time but haven’t seen any improvement in your condition, your doctor might decide increasing your dose may help improve its effectiveness. Additionally, combining Propranolol with other medications or lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet modifications might increase its efficacy.

Disclaimer: If you find that it is not working for you, do not stop the medication cold turkey. Stopping this medication can lead to Propranolol withdrawal.

If Propranolol isn’t working as you hoped, it might be time to explore alternative mental health treatments through a platform like Talkspace. With Talkspace, you can get personalized care from licensed therapists and prescribers who understand your needs and goals.

Get Personalized Mental Health Treatment with Talkspace

Talkspace is a revolutionary online psychiatry and therapy platform offering personalized mental health treatment to individuals seeking help. Talkspace provides a way to connect with qualified, licensed professionals for mental health treatment of anxiety, depression, stress management, and relationship problems. If you’ve got questions, are wondering how long does Propranolol take to work, or need help with your mental health, Talkspace is there for you. 

Talkspace is an option for those seeking personalized mental health treatment from qualified professionals in an affordable way. It provides both convenience and privacy at the same time. Whether you need occasional support managing everyday stressors or long-term guidance navigating life transitions, Talkspace has you covered.


  1. Farzam K, Jan A. Beta Blockers. [Updated 2022 Dec 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: Accessed March 26, 2023. 
  2. DailyMed – propranolol hydrochloride tablet. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published June 28, 2019. Accessed March 26, 2023. 
  3. Propranolol hydrochloride extended-release capsules rx only description. Published 2010. Accessed March 26, 2023. 

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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