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Beta blockers vs. SSRIs
- Beta-blockers are used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and congestive heart failure, to prevent kidney failure in patients with high blood pressure or diabetes, to reduce the risk of stroke, abnormal heart rhythms, chest pain (angina), tremors, pheochromocytoma, hypertrophic subaortic stenosis, and to prevent migraines.
- SSRIs (elective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a type of antidepressant used to treat depression.
- One similarity is that some beta-blockers and some SSRIs may be used to treat anxiety.
- Examples of beta-blockers include acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin), betaxolol (Kerlone), bisoprolol fumarate (Zebeta), carteolol hydrochloride (Cartrol), metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor), metoprolol succinate (Toprol-XL), nadolol (Corgard), penbutolol sulfate (Levatol), pindolol (Visken), propranolol hydrochloride (Inderal), solotol hydrochloride (Betapace), and timolol maleate (Blocadren).
- Examples of SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox, Luvox CR), paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva), sertraline (Zoloft), and vilazodone (Viibryd).
- Side effects that are similar in beta-blockers and SSRIs include:
- Common side effects of beta-blockers that are different from SSRIs include:
- Cold hands and feet
- Tiredness or depression
- Slow heartbeat
- Symptoms of asthma
- Common side effects of SSRIs that are different from beta-blockers include:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Weight gain or loss
What are beta blockers and SSRIs?
Beta-blockers, also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, block norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) from binding to beta receptors on nerves.
These hormones are what cause the physical symptoms of anxiety and blocking them reduces these effects, helping control some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. This also helps reduce the heart rate and lower blood pressure.
SSRIs (elective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a type of antidepressant that works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.
What are the side effects of beta blockers and SSRIs?
Beta blockers may cause:
- Stomach cramps
Other important side effects include:
- Blurred vision
- Hair loss
- Muscle cramps
As an extension of their beneficial effect, they slow heart rate and reduce blood pressure, but they may cause adverse effects such as heart failure or heart block in patients with heart problems.
Beta blockers should not be withdrawn suddenly because sudden withdrawal may worsen angina (chest pain) and cause heart attacks, serious abnormal heart rhythms, or sudden death.
- Central nervous system effects of beta blockers include:
Beta blockers that block β2 receptors may cause shortness of breath in asthmatics.
As with other drugs used for treating high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction may occur.
Beta blockers may cause low or high blood glucose and mask the symptoms of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) in people with diabetes.
Other serious side effects of beta-blockers include:
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis
- Raynaud's phenomenon
- Lupus erythematosus
- Serious allergic reactions
- Erythema multiform
- Steven Johnson Syndrome
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis
- Headaches: SSRIs cause headaches and dose-related nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that improve with continued treatment.
- Insomnia, restlessness, agitation: Insomnia, restlessness, and agitation-which decrease over time-also are associated with SSRIs. Insomnia can be treated with low dose (50-100 mg) trazodone (Desyrel) at bedtime and agitation may be managed by reducing the SSRI dose or treating with anti-anxiety drugs.
- Sexual dysfunction: SSRIs also are associated with sexual dysfunction. Symptoms of sexual dysfunction in men may be treated with sildenafil (Viagra), yohimbine (Pausinystalia yohimbe), amantadine (Symmetrel), cyproheptadine, or neostigmine (Prostigmin).
- Weight gain or loss: Over time, weight loss or weight gain has been associated with SSRIs. Patients may experience weight loss initially but quickly regain weight.
What drugs interact with beta blockers and SSRIs?
- Combining propranolol (Inderal) or pindolol (Visken) with thioridazine (Mellaril) or chlorpromazine (Thorazine) may result in low blood pressure (hypotension) and abnormal heart rhythms because the drugs interfere with each other's elimination and result in increased levels of the drugs.
- Dangerous elevations in blood pressure may occur when clonidine (Catapres) is combined with a beta blocker, or when clonidine or beta blocker is discontinued after their concurrent use. Blood pressure should be closely monitored after initiation or discontinuation of clonidine or a beta blocker when they have been used together.
- Phenobarbital and similar agents may increase the breakdown and reduce blood levels of propanolol (Inderal) or metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL). This may reduce effectiveness of the beta blocker.
- Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (for example, ibuprofen) may counteract the blood pressure reducing effects of beta blockers by reducing the effects of prostaglandins, which play a role in control of blood pressure.
- Beta blockers may prolong hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and mask symptoms of hypoglycemia in diabetics who are taking insulin or other diabetic medications.
- Confusion, high blood pressure, tremor, hyperactivity, coma, and death may occur when SSRIs are combined with other drugs that increase brain serotonin levels, for example, MAOIs, TCAs, sumatriptan (Imitrex), linezolid (Zyvox), St John's Wort, tramadol (Ultram), and meperidine (Demerol).
- The risk of gastrointestinal bleeding may be increased when SSRIs are combined with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- SSRIs may increase the effect of the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), leading to excessive bleeding. Therefore, warfarin therapy, and patients taking NSAIDs should be monitored more frequently with PT/INR testing in individuals who also are taking SSRIs.
What are the different beta blockers and SSRIs available?
- acebutolol (Sectral)
- atenolol (Tenormin)
- betaxolol (Kerlone)
- betaxolol (Betoptic S)
- bisoprolol fumarate (Zebeta)
- carteolol (Cartrol, discontinued)
- carvedilol (Coreg)
- esmolol (Brevibloc)
- labetalol (Trandate [Normodyne - discontinued])
- metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
- nadolol (Corgard)
- nebivolol (Bystolic)
- penbutolol (Levatol)
- pindolol (Visken, discontinued)
- propranolol (Hemangeol, Inderal LA, Inderal XL, InnoPran XL)
- sotalol (Betapace, Sorine)
- timolol (Blocadren, discontinued)
- timolol ophthalmic solution (Timoptic, Betimol, Istalol)
- citalopram (Celexa)
- escitalopram (Lexapro)
- fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem)
- fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva)
- sertraline (Zoloft)
Quick GuideHow to Lower Blood Pressure: Exercise Tips
Beta-blockers are used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) and congestive heart failure, to prevent kidney failure in patients with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. SSRIs (elective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a type of antidepressant used to treat depression. Both types of drugs may be used to treat anxiety, however.
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Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- citalopram, Celexa
- atenolol, Tenormin
- labetalol, Normodyne, Trandate
- fluoxetine, Prozac, Sarafem, Prozac Weekly
- fluvoxamine (Luvox and Luvox CR have been discontinued)
- nadolol (Corgard)
- atenolol and chlorthalidone, Tenoretic
- betaxolol ophthalmic, Betoptic S, Betoptic
- paroxetine (Brisdelle)
- carteolol solution - ophthalmic, Ocupress
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Top Beta-Blockers vs SSRIs Related Articles
AnxietyAnxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
atenololAtenolol (Tenormin)is a beta-adrenergic blocking agent, blocking the action of the sympathetic nervous system, a portion of the involuntary nervous system. Atenolol is prescribed for patients with high blood pressure (hypertension), used to treat chest pain (angina pectoris) related to coronary artery disease, and is also useful in slowing and regulating certain types of abnormally rapid heart rates (tachycardias). Other uses for atenolol include the prevention of migraine headaches and the treatment of certain types of tremors (familial or hereditary essential tremors). It is important to be aware of the drug interactions related to atenolol, effects on pregnancy, as well as common side effects on the user.
atenolol and chlorthalidoneAtenolol and chlorthalidone (Tenoretic) is a combination drug prescribed to treat high blood pressure and abnormally rapid heart rhythms. Side effects, drug interactions, storage, dosing, and pregnancy asfety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
betaxolol ophthalmicBetaxolol ophthalmic (Betoptic S, Betoptic) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of glaucoma. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Citalopram (Celexa) is an antidepressant drug used to treat:
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD),
- panic disorder,
- premenstrual dysphoric syndrome (PMDD),
- anxiety disorder,
- and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and patient safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
DepressionDepression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Depression QuizMany people do not recognize the symptoms and warning signs of depression and depressive disorders in children and adults. With proper diagnosis, treatments and medications are available. Take this quiz to learn more about recovery from depression.
Lexapro (escitalopram) is a medication used for treating depression and general anxiety disorder. Lexapro is in the drug class called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Some of the side effects of Lexapro include agitation or restlessness, blurred vision, diarrhea, drowsiness, difficulty sleeping, dry mouth, frequent urination, headache, indigestion, nausea, sweating, and sexual difficulties.
Drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information are provided.
fluoxetineFluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Prozac Weekly) is a drug prescribed for the treatemnt of depression, bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It is also prescribed in combination with olanzapine (Zyprexa) to treat resistant depression and depression associated with bipolar disorder. Side effects, multiple drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
fluvoxamineFluvoxamine (Luvox and Luvox CR have been discontinued) is an SSRI antidepressant prescribed for the treatment of OCD, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and depression. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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High Blood Pressure Hypertension
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a disease in which pressure within the arteries of the body is elevated. About 75 million people in the US have hypertension (1 in 3 adults), and only half of them are able to manage it. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure because it often has no has no warning signs or symptoms.
Systolic and diastolic are the two readings in which blood pressure is measured. The American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure in 2017. The guidelines now state that blood normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg. If either one of those numbers is higher, you have high blood pressure.
The American Academy of Cardiology defines high blood pressure slightly differently. The AAC considers 130/80 mm Hg. or greater (either number) stage 1 hypertension. Stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg. or greater.
If you have high blood pressure you are at risk of developing life threatening diseases like stroke and heart attack.
REFERENCE: CDC. High Blood Pressure. Updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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Kidney Disease (Hypertension-Related)High blood pressure can damage the kidneys and is one of the leading causes of kidney failure (end-stage renal kidney disease). Kidney damage, like hypertension, can be unnoticeable and detected only through medical tests. If you have kidney disease, you should control your blood pressure. Other treatment options include prescription medications.
labetalolLabetalol (Normodyne, Trandate) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure. Side effects, drug interactions, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this drug.
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nadololNadolol (Corgard) is in the drug class of beta blockers and is prescribed for the treatment of angina (heart pain, chest pain), high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, tremor, and the prevention of headaches and anxiety. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and safety during pregnancy information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
paroxetine (Brisdelle)Paroxetine (Brisdelle) is a prescription drug prescribed to treat moderate to severe hot flashes associated with menopause. Side effects, drug interactions, dosing, storage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Zoloft (sertraline) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Side effects include:
- Skin rash
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal ejaculation
- Decreased interest in sexual activity
- Dry mouth
Drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Depression Therapy MythsFalse ideas scare many depression suffers away from therapy and the quick relief and help these pros can provide. Let our experts help you understand the truth about therapy.