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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000584.txt from 1999/04

From: Ken Wolman <>
Subj: [kl] Beta blockers: BEWARE, please!
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 22:02:30 -0400 wrote:
> I get the list in digest form and hope that by now, one of the doctors on the
> list will have reacted to this thread. I'm not going to wait around, though,
> because a non-doctor has given medical advice again and this time it's
> potentially deadly.

I'm not a doctor either, but I used to take a beta blocker for high
blood pressure. Yes, they are supposed to control stage fright, excess
nerves, etc. I also know singers who swear by them. But before
touching these meds I would be sure to have not just a physical but also
a psychiatric screening. IF the person using them has ANY leanings
toward clinical depression, the beta blockers can set off a gradual
transformation that will produce full-blown bipolar behavior. The
change will sneak up on you. In other words, you can go from mild mood
swings to serious manic-depressive episodes.

Ask me. I am cyclothymic...a very mild form of M-D...but this didn't
come out until I went on the beta blockers in November 1994. They
lowered by BP, for sure. However by June 1995 I alternated between
feeling like Jesus's son, having screaming panic attacks, and
depressions that might have become suicidal if something in the back of
my head hadn't tipped me off that something might be wrong with the drug
I was taking. My "primary care" doctor weaned me off the beta blockers,
sent me to a psychiatrist for a screening, and then put me on something
less toxic. As it is, the aftereffects of the beta blockers on my
psyche took several months to work themselves out.

Nowadays I manage on Paxil and Xanax. Life is a lot simpler when I'm
not doing the psychological equivalent of riding The Cyclone at Coney

What I am describing is a nightmare waiting to happen, pure and simple.
If you are tempted to use beta blockers for stage fright, I beg
you--anyone--to make absolutely sure you are screened and able to handle
them. Otherwise they can have disastrous effects.

Ken Wolman dbtrader Deutsche Bank, N.A.
1251 Sixth Avenue New York, NY 10019 212-469-6494

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