Could a Drug Take Away Approach Anxiety?

by Eric Disco
Mar 14

A commenter in the last post linked an article about a drug called Propranolol:

Propranolol Permanently Reduces Human Fear Response.

Is it possible a drug could take away approach anxiety?

Propranolol has been around for quite some time. It is in a classification of drugs known as “beta blockers.”

Primarily it is used to treat high blood-pressure and works by blocking adrenaline release.

For years, musicians who perform under high-stress situations would sometimes get prescribed the drug, although it is not technically legal in the US for this purpose.

It looks promising due to the fact that it affects the body rather than the mind unlike current anti-anxiety or anti-depressants.

Instead of altering your brain chemistry, it stops the physical symptoms of fear, such as heart racing, sweaty palms, etc.

It doesn’t take away the fear per se, but tricks you into thinking you aren’t afraid because of the lack of physical reaction.

I have also been following another interesting drug for a while called D-Cycloserine, an antibiotic originally prescribed for Tuberculosis which seems to alleviate social anxiety. (See Nasal Spray Helps People Fight Their Fears.)

Do I recommend trying something like this?

I am not totally against trying this, but there are a few things to consider.

Firstly, there is a tendency to look for the magic bullet.

We all want that magic bullet.

Reading articles like this get me excited and make me think that maybe there is a medical solution to the fact that my body gets so aroused in social situations.

If you were to take the drug, you would need to use it in conjunction with a program that would allow for desensitization in the real world. You wouldn’t simply take a pill and be done with it.

There is no way around honest effort, getting outside of your comfort zone and figuring things out for yourself. As they say–pills don’t build skills.

And then there is also the confidence issue.

When I was writing my book, I was tempted to try Ritalin. I read that many college students use it to help them focus.

I thought maybe it would help me get the book done in a much shorter time with a lot more efficiency.

But for me, part of the joy of writing a book is having written a book.

I did it.

I can look back and know that I wrote a book.

If I had taken drugs to help me do it, I would not have the confidence that I could write a book.

Of course, there are all different levels of the devil’s company when it comes to drugs and enhancement.

What if I had migraines and had to take an anti-migraine medication?

What if I were depressed and needed to take anti-depressants?

Would that mean I didn’t write the book on my own?

One of my favorite books, Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream, is about the use of medicine as lifestyle enhancement versus treating diseases.

It even has a chapter about Beta Blockers.

I won’t attempt to solve this ethical dilemma here, but I would caution about looking at any medication as a something that could give you confidence.

Every medication in the past that seemed like a wonder drug tended to distance people from their own feelings.

If those feelings are too overwhelming, than yes, drugs may be necessary.

But in the long run, what you are trying to do is feel more of what you’re feeling, rather than feel less.

In the end, it will be about having experiences and learning how to manage the feelings that result from taking that initiative.

If you still want to read more, here are some sites to check out about Beta Blockers:

Beta blockers; their use and abuse for combating performance nerves

Acute effects of beta blockade and exercise on mood and anxiety

Treating PTSD with Beta-Blockers

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posted in Acceptance

COMMENTS
24 responses

I’m not a big fan of letting drugs do all the work. After all we do need fear for certain things and I mean let’s face it. If there was a real serious threat from a AMOG (physical) that might not necessarily be the best. I still believe that our body can handle fear, and it needs time to adjust. This is definitely a good post to put up, and I think people really need to decide if a magic bullet is what they want.

Max says:

It’s a great article and I will have to agree here that I myself have looked at these beta blockers about one to two years ago.
I was very scared of approaching, talking, and all the rest that happens with it but I built myself without the medication because back then I was young and short on money and it worked in my favor. If you see me today in action.. I cannot even believe myself sometimes as to where I have come and I associate it with growing up and becoming a man. It gives me pride and a confidence that if I put my mind to anything I can do anything and I have become a believer of behavior programming and today I am more sure of myself then ever. Not only have I become extremely confident in talking to strangers out of nowhere, lol, my public speaking skills are better then someone you’d consider a good speaker, my faith in my own ability and intuition has shot through the roof and my curiosity for adventure and just wanting to do it because I know I would be fearful but that means stepping outside my comfort zone and hence learning and growing more as a person. That is the challenge for me lately, grow myself as a person by experiencing fear and then learning to control it in that same situation over and over.

Did I take medicine? No. Did I want to take medicine? Heck yeah. Did I think I could be the way I am today without medicine? Not in a million year. Can medicine help you? Yes! Will you go through the stage of personal growth while taking medicine? Never. Will you have faith in yourself and your intuition? Never. Will you want to live life to the fullest? Sure, but if one more problem would come you’d look for another pill.

That’s my stand, life is too short to look for pills. Just do it.

Jim says:

I take E to help with situations like this… as opposed to making one feel less of what they should be feeling it makes one feel more. Simply more of the good feelings so that they drown out the anxiety

that being said, it’s obviously not a good idea to go around all X’d up all the time. Even sparingly could be too much. But when I take it, I do it more so like an exercise or experiment, akin in spirit to going out and asking for directions or to a mall and doing something ridiculous to get out of your comfort zone. (That, and just for my own fun, of course). You can look back and say ‘I did it’ and see that it wasn’t so bad. In a drug situation, it is true that you maybe ‘needed’ the drug at to do it but what is important is that nobody else could tell you were on drugs, and reacted in a positive way just to how you carried yourself.

I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone, I’ve got a decent tolerance for drugs and have enough knowledge and experience. But for any readers out there who already dabble in substances, it’s a worthwhile try.

Tyler says:

Jim, you take E to “help with situations like this…” ??? that is crazy. I understand what you are getting at as far as thinking that, “if I did it when I was on drugs… ” But this is a crazy concept. That is a hard drug. To each is own.

I love the adrenalin rush of approaching. I used to get nervous of course. Anyone would. The more you do it, the more you embrace that feeling. It diminishes but you still get that rush.

The physiological reaction to excitement is the exact same as the reaction to fear. The only difference in the psychological mind frame. Are you afraid or are you excited? because your body can’t tell the difference…So get excited and make that positive.

The real trick is to completely separate the outcome of your approaches to your emotions. You can’t give a shit basically. Nerves of steel. It takes practice, it takes some success but worth it in the end for sure!

chaosman says:

How is this any different than using alcohol, mood enhancers or anything else to help your game? Relying on anything is never good. I sometime see coaches that have to take like 3 shots before they can even do a warmup set. I think the best bet is to naturally get yourself used to eliminating approach anxiety. Even though its a long and tedious process, its for like, and its like riding a bike, you wont ever forget.

Tyler says:

It depends on how you are using alcohol. If you are using it as a crutch, than that is weak. If I am out at a bar I will probably have a few beers because I am enjoying myself with my friends. I will hit on girls as well but I don’t need it by any means. And you will never see me drunk. I also hit on women in other situations when I am not drinking. I don’t have much AA. Taking 3 shots just to do a warm up set, especially from an instructor, is pathetic.

Danielsan says:

Tyler, you don’t have much approach anxiety? So why are you on here? To brag how effortless it is for you?

Donkey Puncher says:

@Tyler,

E is hardly “hard” or more dangerous than alcohol. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it. It has helped me approach, and if you’re at a party (aka rave, massive, club, etc) where other girls are on it, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. It also ENHANCES your experiences, not dilutes them and just cuts through all the bullshit straight up front as the participants tend to act from a love/lust standpoint rather than a guarded/cynical standpoint.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/3352286/Alcohol-is-more-dangerous-than-ecstacy.html

http://www.dancewithshadows.com/business/pharma/alcohol-vs-drugs-ecstacy.asp

Francis says:

@Donkey Puncher,

Anyone who has to rely on anything artificial in order to do something so human as meet and interact with women is sadly missing the point. Life is not about overcoming AA. Learn to experience your AA and do it anyway. Much more powerful experience. There’s nothing more magical when a girl can feel your nervousness but can see you that you are showing courage despite your anxiety.

But if you enjoy taking recreational drugs I’d say continue (at your own health), but for others, stop using drugs to get this AA sorted. Who wants to be dependent on a pill in order to do something others do so naturally. Your successes if any will only be because of a drug and you wont be taking it forever. When you stop, your success stops and you’re back to square one. Life is all about the adventure and discovering no matter how difficult something is you can still do it anyway.

Pill should only be for more serious things like acute social phobia/anxiety or other mental issues, not something such as approaching a woman.

Francis

Jim says:

@ all you guys

I already was taking acid, e, and other stuff before I found any of these communities, so the decision was not made to rid myself of AA, it was already a part of who I am… I seemed to have discovered E works in these situations by accident. as for successes stopping when I stop taking the drug, that holds some truth. But on the other hand it helps me learn. I think of them as training wheels: they help you learn to ride but you won’t be able to go very fast or far with them.

@ Tyler
next time you tell someone “to each his own” make sure you don’t entirely negate it by implying that their decision is “crazy.” I am well aware of the physiological and social side-effects of the drugs I use.

Elliott says:

For a lot of people drugs make a dramatic difference in the quality of their lives. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of judgement in our society about using medication as an aid. It’s a crutch for a lot of people, and I don’t think it should be judged as good or bad (not that that’s what you’re doing). I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with a crutch….especially if it helps people do things they couldn’t have done without it.

If you broke your leg, and you couldn’t walk without a crutch would you turn down using the technological advancement of a crutch because it would diminish your self-confidence that you couldn’t have gotten where you wanted to get without help? Medication is a way for a lot of people to get a little boost that they need to help overcome not a physical wound, but more often deeper internal, emotional wounding, which we unfortunately tend to discount in our society. Medication helps a lot of people on the path of overcoming emotional wounding so that they can then go on and live productive healthy lives and develop healthy relationships (which is what it seems a lot of people here are wanting to do).

It seems a shame that on a blog like this that seems to be about helping guys with confidence issues, that I’m seeing some of the same judgement and misinformation that is all over our society about prescription medication.

There seems to be this big myth that medication is only a way for people to numb out their emotions. Yes, a lot of people use certain medications to numb their emotions, but some people think all medication use is this. For a lot of people anxiety actually stands in the way of what they really feel. So medicating anxiety for some is a way to actually feel a deeper sense of what it is they really feel behind the mask of anxiety….not a way to numb emotions, but actually a way to deepen them.

I think a lot of people in the world of “self-help” could probably stand to receive huge benefit from the advancement of modern medication, but unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of belief that medication is somehow in conflict with self-development or even spirituality. So I think it just winds up driving a lot of people even further away from finding something that could actually help them.

No, medication is not a magic bullet. You are right there. The truth is, medication is just another tool to help people develop and further understand themselves, and one that has unfortunately gotten a bad wrap in society from a lot of misinformation.

Eric Disco says:

Great comment. I agree that drugs can help a lot of people. Was recently talking to someone who told me she was on anti-depressents. She said that she used to cry every day. She was crippled by depression. And what she found works for her. She can now live her life and she feels like when good things happen it’s her and not the drugs

I think that’s great. People should absolutely use drugs if it will improve their quality of life. If it helps them to actually live their lives *and* feel good, then more power to you. And I hope my original post didn’t come across as too negative toward drugs.

The problem comes, I think, when people turn to drugs to try to solve problems that could be solved without. Approach anxiety is such a difficult thing to deal with for most guys. It’s so tempting to try to find something that will help get past it.

Eric

Casey1982 says:

Great article. Not sure if Id try beta blockers though… think of the side effects? (Are there any?)

Zanther says:

A beta blocker would probably be too powerful of a drug to just take when you’re going out at night. It’s something you want to have ongoingly monitored by your doctor.

Side effects include feeling dizzy and lightheaded. If dosage is not right, can cause hypotension which can make you pass out (so probably don’t want to drink alcohol, then end up in a hot tub with the girl, you’d surely pass out). It can also cause decreased sexual ability.

It basically stops your heart from beating too hard or fast. I don’t know how well that works out when it comes to crazy sex.

But hardest part is probably going to be getting a doctor to prescribe you a cardiac drug like that…THOUGH it was recently found that it decreases chance of heart attacks even for people not at risk for them…so you could play that “prevention” card with them if maybe 40 and over?

Zanther says:

And as an after thought.

There are non-prescription herbal supplements that will calm you down a bit. I rolled out with a guy once who sprayed his tongue with something that looked like a Binaca spray bottle. At the time I was too scared to try it, but it probably would have helped.

Mike says:

I’ve taken Beta-Blockers for almost a year.

I can say that they really, truly work. They don’t take away the fear, but they reduce the symptoms that can make you lose confidence: sweaty palms, racing heart, stuttering words. They calm you down just enough to allow you to practice, and eventually not feel that way anymore.

I have been off of them for 3 months and still have fear when I talk with women, but A LOT less. I am definitely way more calm and composed. What will really bake your noodle, is would I still feel this way even if I didn’t take the Beta Blockers? I really dont care, I am in a better place now…

I wont recommend it for everyone, but for extreme cases you might want to talk to your doctor (believe me, most doctors are understanding and would be willing to let you try them out).

Talus says:

A doc friend suggested I ask my doc for Propranolol after watching me at the bar. I didn’t think it could be that simple, but I took his advice and asked my doc point blank about using it for approach anxiety.

His reaction? Great idea! This weekend, we shall see. I’ll just have to remember not to ride my motorcycle while my fear response is blocked. That could get messy.

D says:

I did a lot of research on D-cycloserine before I tried it. I found a website that sells meds from overseas that didn’t require a prescription. From all the research this seemed like the drug that would do it. I’m completely healthy and never take medication and taking drugs for AA is a last resort sort of thing (other than alcohol.)

All it really did was confuse me and I didnt feel very clear headed. You’re not supposed to drink while taking it, so I would not take a pill that day if I was going to drink later on. One day wasn’t good enough. I got pretty drunk and I felt like 10 second Tom from 50 First Dates. I met a girl at a concert, got her number and texted her to be funny. 5 min later I got a text back from her and I thought, “Who the F is this?… oops oh yeah.” Then, I had to check my phone every 5 min just to keep remembering her name. Cycloserine was waaaaay over hyped in all the research I read.
I’m trying a beta-blocker soon. We’ll see how this goes.

Joey says:

I am a guy with severe approach anxiety on the level of complete freeze, however i’ve seen many guys way worse than me. It must be true that is different for everyone. I know some people who wouldn’t think twice about doing it. I might approach ten times on a good night, but im still freezing if any guys know what I mean.

All the talk is great, but it does little help when you are in an environment where its constantly giving you the “social freeze”. If your nervous going up is probably going to cause a not so good reaction, further reinforcing the bad thoughts, its a pitiful cycle as girls like experienced and confident guys, and its a great filter for them.

I’ve tried different drugs like E and MCAT, they all work really well to lower approach anxiety, however they make me feel uneasy and unnatural, plus there seems to be little to no state gain, compared to overcoming yourself to do it.

I tried an antidepressant and the side effects just outweigh anything good you can gain from it. I’m going to give propanolol a shot for the nerves.

I am getting better at overcoming approach anxiety, inventing far better techniques than what is out there. One day I hope to share what i’ve learned, however i’ve gone from the guy whose freezing, to the guy who approaches every now and then, have great dance game, but can’t stick his approaches, however i’m sure there are guys out there i’ve seen that are like 4x more nervous than I am. I feel for them.

I think gurus need to start accepting that a lot of guys who really need this are struggling with crazy social anxiety/approach anxiety and after trial and error I concur nothing works better than approaching loads and learning.

Joey says:

I must add that I am doing like 3 to 10 weak approaches, on a night out, this isn’t enough! I stress that the only way to get good at this, is to be able to do it. Also the anxiety freezes you from sticking your approaches.

All good approaches have one thing in common, that once you open you keep her attention, now if you open and freeze and ask “where are you from?” you are not keeping her attention, even you’ve probably spent ages getting over that anxiety.

What i’m getting at, is if you are spending a whole night in fear you are not effectively learning. This is the extent of which anxiety can hamper guys.

However all this talk is negative so I wanted to say that for guys out there who are really looking for a pill, go for it, but its important to realise AA is not a fear of woman. this is a complete social lie. The fear is the social bullshit you’ve been taught, underneath that fear is the want for the girl. This is what creates the frustration sensation. this is not a reframe, but the truth. People are scared of spiders, but they don’t want to sleep with the spider. AA is your manhood wanting to go for something, but overtime it just got fucking lost by people laughing at you or so on. you want it because you are a man, you want to dominate her. Do animals think twice before hitting on a chick? do they have social pressure. I don’t think so. There is thousand years of evolution inside that feeling.

mark says:

from a psychologically view the term “Approach Anxiety” does not exist. I think what we puas here call “Approach Anxiety” is more like a specific social phobia.

If you want you can google that but wikipedia says:
“Specific social phobia may be classified into performance fears and interaction fears, i.e., fears of acting in social setting and interacting with other people, respectively.”

If you guys have normal social skills but suffer in certain situations that possible could be the right diagnoses.

For me it’s performance phobia, because I often got blackouts when approaching and it’s similar to stage fright. Thinking back to school the symptoms are exactly similar when I did presentations or something like this in front of my classmates.

Brad says:

Beta blockers will definitely help. They are not a long term fix, but they enable you to overcome your initial anxiety. Example: I used to be scared of flying. My doctor prescribed me beta blockers to help me overcome this fear. When the plane landed, I was like “That wasn’t so bad”. I proved to myself I could do it. The next time I flew, I didn’t need them. Same with PU. I say to anyone thinking of trying beta blockers: DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to overcome your fear. Nobody has a right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. Make up your own mind. If that means taking beta blockers initially, then do it! If it means meditating before you go out, then do it!

Ariel says:

What helps me a lot is Vipassana meditation that I practice. I find it enables me to observe the anxiety – find the place in between repressing and drowning inside of it – and that observation with time dissolves it.
You can check out
http://www.dhamma.org

Paul says:

The way I dealt with AA was that I found a girlfriend for myself that is not very attractive and was really easy to get . I got her over Internet dating site. She loves me . I am not very happy with her but now it is a WAY better than the days I was alone for YEARS (because of AA and overall fear of interacting with girls) Now I am with her for 2 years. She is happier and happier day by day, but I am unhappy more and more. But it is a good feeling to go to a club with her (just to dance and enjoy together) seeing all the pretty girls and not feel the pressure to approach one them and got rejected as many times before. My AA comes from being rejected by the girls at every attempt ,but now having a girlfriend I do not have to talk to other girls …

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