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Beta blockers for migraines. And anxiety?

I was recently prescribed beta blockers for migraines as they have been getting out of control. As I started to research them, I discovered that they are also used a lot to treat anxiety and so I began to wonder if they would help me with that too.

beta blockers for migraine.

I’ve suffered from migraines for as long as I can remember, the blinding pain on one side of my head and photo sensitivity meaning I missed a lot of school as a teen and I stumbled through my early 20s taking enough over the counter pain meds to sink a ship. One of the worst things was the nausea and vomiting, not dissimilar to morning sickness actually!

I had fixed braces at 13, and the dentist was a two hour drive away, I would usually get a migraine on the way home, probably due to the tightening and would almost always end up being sick before we got back, that was a time I remember them being particularly bad.

I tried, in no particular order, migraleave, sumatriptan, food exclusion, homeopathy, asprin, paracetamol, codeine, co-codamol, massage and I even looked into the piercing that is supposed to help. Turns out I don’t have enough of the necessary part of ear! Maybe that’s why I get them! Most took the edge off but stopped being effective after prolonged use.

They went away for a long period while I was pregnant and breastfeeding, leading me to believe that they are hormone driven. A couple of years ago, they returned. Slowly at first but then increasing steadily in frequency and ferocity, the first day being a day of snacking all day, then in the evening, the tell tale nag behind my eye, building to a pain that I can’t adequately describe, I suppose the best way would be to say it’s like someone is pulling hard on my optic nerve whilst simultaneously pushing a hot needle through my eyeball. Nice huh? The pain wasn’t limited to the eye but could also feel like a sledgehammer had struck me on the forehead. Occasionally you could feel a pulse where the pain was, which got scary! Sometimes it was accompanied by vomiting but usually just nausea and I would almost cry in bright light, even wearing sunglasses indoors.

The day after a migraine would be spent feeling exhausted and washed out, weak and fragile, sensitive to both light and sound, loud noises being the worse, not brilliant when you have two children.

Migraines were starting to effect my quality of life, these two are anything but quiet and the pain I felt some days meant that I struggled to be around them and missed out spending quality time to go and lie in a dark room.


The migraines got so regular that I was having one a week, sometimes two. As a busy Mum of two who also works from home, this really wasn’t good for me as I’d end up taking a lot of pills to try and combat them, with some of the pills giving me palpitations and making me so woozy that I would sit and stare at the wall with my mouth hanging open! At least I wasn’t in pain though I guess!

I had a whole host of blood tests that all came back normal and so the doctor suggested Beta Blockers. I was taken aback, I thought they were just for heart conditions in people that were much older then me, it was a little scary if I’m honest! After a little research, I noticed that they were often used to treat anxiety as well, and that anxiety can be linked to migraines. Although I thought I had my anxiety under control, I had been aware that it was getting a bit more noticeable.

I started on a dose of 80mg of propranolol once a day, (slow release), about a 5 weeks ago and in that time I have had one migraine. I am so amazed. I have had a couple of times where I felt the ‘pre-migraine munchies’ come on and the warning heavy head, but it hasn’t developed into anything more. I can’t tell you the relief!

And as a side effect, my anxiety has reduced so much that it is barely noticable. I can feel the familiar wave of panic rising as I think about my to do list for the day or the things I need to sort out for the children but then it sort of just ebbs away and I feel calm again. I think I am coping with things much better and as a result my temper flare ups have been much better as I’m less stressed about getting everyone out the door etc. We are still just as busy but I seem to care a bit less and as a result the atmosphere has been relaxed.

I can honestly say that migraines were ruining my life and the relief to be mostly free of them is overwhelming, I just hope it continues like this.

Do you suffer from migraines? Are you on Beta Blockers for anxiety? I’d love to hear from you, you can find me on facebook, twitter and instagram or comment below.


I am not a doctor or have any medical training whatsoever and I’m not suggesting this treatment would work for anyone else other then myself, I’m just sharing my experience. As with everything, seek advice from your GP to find out what would be suitable for you.






  1. July 27, 2017 / 3:57 pm

    Oh my God Lou I could’ve written this myself (and actually have a post sat in drafts that touches on this)!! Mine have also crept back and I have been prescribed beta blockers. I was too worried about taking them though, so I’ve now been prescribed Gebapantin, which is used to treat epilepsy. I haven’t been brave enough to try them yet though, but this is giving me hope. Do you worry about taking something every day? And what will happen when you come off them? They’re my biggest worries at the moment xxx

    • July 27, 2017 / 4:12 pm

      Well, I do but the pain of the migraines was starting to scare me more. Especially with the weird pulse in my head! I figure that when the time comes the GP will help me to come off them safely. I’m so sorry you’re suffering, it’s just so miserable. I don’t regret starting them though, being free of the pain is bliss. Always here if you want to chat xxx

  2. July 27, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    I can sympathise, I suffered from migraines for years and tried everything. I found triptans where the only thing that could get rid of them in one day (As opposed to 3) but if I took one I’d have to go to bed because they knocked me straight out. I tried beta blockers and they worked for a while, sadly the migraines came back though. I always thought they were hormone related and I can say that since I started the menopause they have almost completely stopped. I’ve waited 35 years!
    I hope you have more success, drugs and treatments are changing all the time xx

  3. Gemma
    July 28, 2017 / 6:28 pm

    Hi, I truly sympathise! I have been a chronic migraine sufferer for about 7 years now. I now have a Gammacore device which I trialled through Gloucestershire NHS after seeing the neurologist at GRH. The devices are not yet NICE approved because they are so expensive but you can get them on a case by case discretionary basis. I’ve tried every drug on the market, and nothing seems to work for very long. I really hope the beta blockers work for you, but if they don’t please try and see the neurologist in Gloucester and ask about this (I think I read somewhere you live in this area??) good luck x

  4. Emma
    July 28, 2017 / 9:10 pm

    This gives me hope! I too suffer horrific migraines, I also get a pulse in my head that you can feel (freaky right?!) I’ve had the usual migraine preventative tablets that you take on the onset but the dont work. As a result I’ve been taking aspirin and ibuprofen by the bucketful and I suspect I’ve given myself a stomach ulcer I think a trip to the gp is in order.

  5. July 31, 2017 / 8:44 pm

    It’s so great you have found something that works to relieve your migraines. I hope the relief continues.

  6. August 23, 2017 / 9:32 am

    I could have practically written this. I have suffered so badly too. I tried Propranolol a few times for anxiety and for migraines, but unfortunately, I find the side-effects worse. They give me horrible hallucinations. I now take Amitriptyline which is similar I think. They have helped a lot as has some neck, head and shoulder yoga. I too don’t have the bit of my ear for the piercing. I got an acupressure point at the top done, but don’t think it’s been as effective. Hope it continues to help for you lovely xx

  7. maddalena dalton
    December 25, 2017 / 6:12 pm

    I love reading this Ive never suffered any side effects from propranolol and I’m really sensitive to drugs.Propranolol have really helped me x

  8. Lisa
    May 19, 2018 / 6:58 am

    I am so glad beta blockers actually helped you! I really hope you have finally found a solution for your migraines!
    I suffer from migraines for more than 15 years and have tried everything. Codeine, paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin, caffeine but nothing seemed to help apart from sumatriptan, but I can’t take them every day as they’re very strong.
    I thought that they’re hormone related too, as I’ve got endometriosis since I was 26 yo, (I’m 37 now). I also feel a pulse on my head, which is very creepy and I also have tachycardia due to stress. I have just been prescribed Propranolol. It’s the second day today that I’m on 80mg/day but I don’t see any difference. I know it’s quite soon but do you remember how long it took for Propranolol to work? My migraines could be 2-3/day… 🙁

    • May 19, 2018 / 7:08 am

      Oh gosh! That’s sounds so stressful and miserable, especially couple with the endometriosis, you really have got it rough. I can’t remember how long it took for them to work, I’m so sorry! It wasn’t very long though. I’d say give it at least a week. I can now kill a migraine if it (very rarely) crops up with 2 paracetamol which was unheard of. I don’t actually take them anymore and the migraines haven’t returned. Touch wood. I do think stress is a big factor. Have you tried regular massage? Let me know how you get on.

  9. Ken
    June 1, 2018 / 3:16 pm

    Hello, I to suffer from migraines and aniexty. I am currently wearing a heart monitor for my palpitations. I might be a good candidate for beta blocker. I’m nervous if they do give it to me cause I’ve been on Zoloft and wellbutrin and had horrible horrible side effects as I’m very sensitive to meds. I have the same pain in my head, pulsating head on the right side which leads to veritgo feeling and my aniexty doesn’t help either. Any advice for me???

    • June 6, 2018 / 9:42 am

      I’m really sorry but I’m not a medic and have absolutely no medical training whatsoever so I couldn’t comment on your treatment. You have my sympathies though, I really do understand the horrible feelings of both anxiety and migraines and I hope you get a good treatment plan worked out with your doctor very soon.

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