Beta blockers

What are beta blockers? 

Beta blockers can be prescribed in addition to standard antipsychotic regimes in order to target some side effects of these medications, including extrapyramidal symptoms such as akathisia (a type of restlessness, a common and early-onset side effect of many neuroleptics). Beta blockers are adrenergic beta receptor antagonists, inhibiting the action of neurotransmitters adrenaline/epinephrine and noradrenaline/norepinephrine on beta-receptors, ultimately influencing brain regions that control functions such as movement. Beta blockers have also been used to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety in people with schizophrenia (for example, pounding heart, clammy hands, sweating), and have also been suggested to reduce aggression.

What is the evidence on beta blockers?

Moderate quality evidence suggests norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors atomoxetine and reboxetine may reduce depressive symptoms, but not positive or negative symptoms. Lower quality evidence suggests no benefit of beta blockers for improving extrapyramidal symptoms such as akathisia, or for reducing aggression.

September 2019

Last updated at: 5:32 am, 16th September 2019
To view documentation related to this topic download the files below
Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.