Propranolol / Thanatophobia (Fear of Death) - Anxiety Support

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Propranolol / Thanatophobia (Fear of Death)


Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the long post, I am new here so I hope I am doing this post correctly. I am just looking for some questions answered / advice from someone who has taken Propranolol before.

Background :

I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression around 12 years ago when I was around 15 years old. The reason I am anxious all the time is that I fear death, I don't know why, I just always think something is going to kill me, and the thought of no longer being here scares the crap out of me. Due to this fear most of the time I seem to feel pains in different places which makes me think I have a lot of different death-causing illnesses, and then have difficulty breathing, I have had panic attacks for years. I have been through counselling doing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which didn't help and am currently on the waiting list for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Whilst waiting on this the Doctor has recently taken my blood pressure/heart rate, said everything was fine then prescribed me with Propranolol. The dosage that the doctor has given me is 1 10mg tablet 3 times a day. The issue is that after seeing the potential side effects I am now scared of taking it incase it kills me.


1) Have you experienced any side effects? If so what were they?

2) If you take one when not having a panic attack what would happen? Would my heart just stop?

3) I have had this anxiety for so long its is like my normal state, I'm not even sure when I'm anxious anymore. I feel like crap 90% of the time and always feel like I'm dying, will Propranolol help with that?

4) Since Propranolol slows your heart rate does that mean you can't exercise anymore because that would increase your heart rate? what would happen if you did take it then ended up doing exercise?

5) When you take them does it feel like your heart has stopped? That would really scare me.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to look at my post and for any replies I might get. I appreciate it very much.

Kind Regards,

Colin L

20 Replies

OMG. I have exactly the same fear. I feel sick every day and think I have an infection or condition that is going to kill me. I am scared to even go to the Dr's because I fear that j will be told bad news but search symptoms, well now i get my friends to do that for me and to not tell me. I was diagnosed 5 year ago with anxiety. I was put on sertraline and they did work in the end. They were horrible to go on. Don't think there's a piece of paper long enough for the symptoms j experienced on sertraline. I was on them for 2 year and worked well for me. Unfortunately we all have set backs because of triggers and events that happen in our lives. I also had my last cbt session today and tbh didn't work for me either. Felt like they didn't want to know much about what tour worries are and don't get to know you well enough. I haven't tried a beta-blocker yet but was recommended but like you I am also to scared due to hearing they slow your heart rate. I do know people that have taken them and have been fine. I think even if you do get bad side affects that it will not kill you just make sure you discontinue using them. I my self wish j could find something to help and wish I had the courage to not worry about taking medication. Sorry I'm not much help but pm me if you need a chat

Colin_L in reply to L1994

Hi, thank you for the reply. I know how you feel and it sucks to be in our situation but we will get through it. I have started EMDR today so hopefully that helps.

Hi Colin welcome to the forum anxiety is difficult to explain and sometimes difficult for us to control did something start your anxiety or an event that made u think of death I alwaz panic when taking meds sometimes I read the side affects that I feel I have them it’s mostly the mind playing tricks u worry about dying and side affects but if try to do something you enjoy u could make uself really ill stressing about everything believe me I was so stressed I had a ha death will happen if we want it or not so try to plan a different task you enjoy everyday and thank god everyday u mk it to do the next it may take time but you will get stronger enjoy your life

Colin_L in reply to Yasyass

Thank you for the advice

Colin, the fear of death is an existential fear and it feels as it you are not there, but I have found breathing through it helps the dissociation immensely but you have to do it slowly three times and make the exhale deep into the pelvic floor. It helps you get to the parasympathetic nerve that can instantly calm you down.

Have to remind myself of all the things to be grateful for and this helps me stay in this space and make sure I take the time to do those things that are joyful to me, but not to force as that causes me to try too hard and have to start all over again.

Meditation has been my saving grace as once you learn to do it regularly it will take you to places into your mind that can remind you of all the wonders that made you happy from the past. Lately we do not have many of those in the present day of fears and scares for loved one, but give yourself time and space to heal. The minute I realized what was going on in society, it became clear that these existential fears might be tapped in all of us in some fashion.

My was fear of loss of freedom which this pandemic brought out many ways than was was normal. It also can bring out a fear that our body might me damaged which is another existential fear as this pandemic became obvious.

Best for me to avoid watching the news most to the time except to assure I am aware of needs but then turn it it off and calm down the nervous system. Once the system is calm it has remarkable healing powers and it is time for me to practice them.

Propranolol I think is often used for night terrors and I am not aware of the side effects. Music is my best healer, reading a good book can pass away a lot of fears. Love a good movie or situation comedy is often my saving grace. Just joy to be around loved ones can sooth the savage beast inside of this terrors you define

That is why counseling can be very helpful and hope you take it slowly with your nervous system and give yourself a break and try to remember any wonderful thing you used to enjoy. I find listening to birds brought back a lot or wonderful memories of a child awakening to their sounds outside my window.

Colin_L in reply to socratesanne

I have tried breathing but it doesnt really seem to help me, I have started looking into mindfulness and doing EMDR therapy so hopefully they help. Thank you for your reply and advice.

socratesanne in reply to Colin_L

Exhale long and deep into the pelvic floor is crucial to open up the parasympathetic nervous system. Also what helps more than EMDR is Brain spotting, hypnotherapy and somatic experiencing.

Colin_L in reply to socratesanne

Thanks I will look up your recommendations :)

I take propranolol ER, 120mg once a day(regardless of my anxiety/panic level) for controlling my heart rate (which is elevated along with my blood pressure), and have zero side effects. 10mg has about zero chance of stopping your heart.

You can still exercise (ask your doctor, this is not medical advice), but you might not get the same elevated heart as normal.

As far as being afraid of death: Most people are. It's normal. It's scary and unknown and it sucks, but what can you do?

Did the billions of years before your were born affect you in any way? Nope, and most likely, neither will the years after death.

Colin_L in reply to clusterfu__d

Thank you for telling me about you experience with them, this has helped to put my mind at rest :).

hi Colin I too fear death I have done for the last 20 years and has gotten progressively worse since my mum died in my arms 13 years ago.

I am also taking propranolol have been for 13 years and I have never had any side effects at all from them probably kept me awake for a few days while they got in my system but other than that they've been great 👍

The worst thing to do when taking a new medical is to read the side effects because you have this fear of death if you read what the danger side effects i guarantee you will be convinced you have it..they help with people lime us who fear death they are beta blockers they are just to calm the anxiety when you fear kicks in they won't kill you im still here and ive had them for 13 will be fine honey they are to help you not hurt you


Colin_L in reply to Natzsteveo

That sounds horrible, sorry to hear that. Thank you for telling me how they effect you it makes me more confident with taking them :) Yeah I should defiantly not read the side effects, it doesn't help at all haha. Thank you, I hope your okay.

Natzsteveo in reply to Colin_L

I asked my dr to take my leaflets out my medication so I didn’t sit there reading them he didn’t but he told my partner to take them out and hide them so I didn’t look but it’s so hard not too..if your scared then maybe buy a pill cutter and cut it in half until you can convince yourself it’s ok to take a full one and feel confident in your self

Here if you need to talk

Nat x

Colin_L in reply to Natzsteveo

Haha yeah thats a good idea, might just have to ask someone to get rid of mine too, knowing my luck I will end up needing the leaflet and wont be able to find it. Yeah that's not a bad plan, might have to start with half a tablet. Thank you :)

Natzsteveo in reply to Colin_L

Always here if you feel worried about anything take babysteps Colin you will get there its overwhelming when we're afraid but we can also be your support system for that extra reassurance

Stay safe 🌈

Hi Colin_L. I've taken propranolol for a little while now. My dose is different to yours. Mine is 40mg twice a day. I was prescribed this for anxiety-related insomnia. I haven't had side effects except once when I was going to stop them myself. I felt weird, hard to articulate what, heart rate affected definitely then. I since was told to stop I would need to reduce much slower. One thing after another I haven't stopped. In combination with an antidepressant I feel they have helped. For me no side effects when taken properly. Everyone is different however and some can be very sensitive to medications but they could have such a positive impact - you won't know unless you try. Your doctor will have prescribed knowing they're suitable for you based on your health and other meds. I would advise getting a plan from the GP on how to stop if you feel they don't help should that be necessary in your case. They help me is what I can say for me in my case, hope they do for you too.

Colin_L in reply to SuzeeO

Thank you for sharing you experiance and advice, puts my mind at ease knowing so many others have taken them and been fine :)

So much like me!!!! So much so it is comforting so thank you for posting.

I started on propranolol about 3 weeks ago as a supplement to the fluoexetine I have been on for years as I had so many "life threatening " symptoms"

i then refused to drive and hid away, isolating myself in case I had an accident and someone found out I was on them. ( in retrospect I was unfit to drive anyway) My daughter rang the doctor for me and he reassured me that they alone should not prevent me from driving safely. I am on 80mg sustained release once a day.

I have had no reaction at all other than they have stopped my shaking, limited my sweating episodes, limited my word finding and stuttering, limited the extreme nausea, calmed me down and limited the frequent panic attacks.

All good things!!!!

My anxiety has been uncontrollable this last few months and that is health/death related, mainly being told i have some terminal disease.

I feared going out in case I had an accident and got killed or fell, I feared going to bed in case the house burned down or burglars broke in. I couldn't sleep in case I never woke up , I was frightened of waking in the morning in case I became aware of an increased or new pain and had a myriad of health scares, mainly cancer related. I have had to switch all my phones and e mails off in case someone rings me with bad news and steel myself to look at them at certain times.

I been for tests and scans etc but still do not believe the doctors when they say they have no evidence to suspect anything is wrong because they do not say so outright. ( I know they can't say that but it doesn't help) I just can't go to the doctors anymore because they might recommend other tests or put an idea in my head by the questions they ask.

I too have tried counselling and CBT to no avail and it has been recommended I try Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) but I am not sure how to go about it...and of course it may involve seeing the doctor!!!

Good luck, let us know how you get on with the propanalol and emdr.

Love and hugs

Colin_L in reply to GJRWS

Your welcome, it does help to know that im not the only one that feels this way. That is excellent to hear that you haven't experience any negative effects from them. I have done some of the things you mention too like hiding away, Im scared everytime I get into my car but I just try to force myself to do it. I have started doing EMDR today so hopefully I will be able to let you know how it is going in the near future :)

As for getting the help yourself, I self referred myself by googling mental health help and the first thing that came up was my local mental well being group. Also we are doing the EMDR over the phone so you wouldn't have to leave your house. Look into it, it might help :)

Thanks for this, Colin

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