Beta blockers can be taken when you’re anticipating performance-related anxiety, explained San Diego-based psychiatrist Dr. Sheldon Zablow (via USA Today). Adding that their effects begin within 10 minutes and last about three hours, Dr. Zablow shared, “You can take them situationally. If you can anticipate when you’re going to be anxious and you take it before, it can help you get through the experience much easier.”
Beta blockers have been in use since the 1960s, so their effects have been studied widely, but that doesn’t mean they don’t come with their own set of risks. Extreme fatigue, weight gain, dizziness, nausea, irregular heartbeat, dry mouth and eyes, sleeplessness, depression, and shortness of breath are some of the medication’s side effects.
Beta blockers are only a temporary solution for performance-related anxiety and should not be taken without a doctor’s prescription. Also, while they may work for someone with mild anxiety who wants to soothe their nerves before going on stage (much like what Robert Downey Jr. seemingly did at the Golden Globes acceptance speech), “if someone has more severe anxiety that occurs almost all the time, that would require treatments like anti-depressants,” added Dr. Zablow.
Downey ended his speech by thanking his wife, Susan Downey, for making an art out of “extracting me from my comfort zone” and even the Golden Globes journalists for “changing your game, therefore changing your name. Salut.”