- beta-blockers and hallucinations
- Beta-blockers are also referred to as ß-blockers, beta-adrenergic blockers, beta-antagonists, beta-adrenergic antagonists, beta-adrenergic blocking drugs, and beta-adrenoceptor antagonists. All these names are used to denote a group of chemical substances that have the capacity to modulate the activity of the sympathetic nervous system by blocking the action of endogenous cate-cholamines such as adrenaline and noradrenaline upon beta-adrenergic receptors. In biomedicine, beta-blockers are prescribed for a broad range of indications, including glaucoma, cardiovascular conditions such as congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and mitral valve prolapse, as well as such CNS conditions as migraine, tremor, and akathisia. Although hallucinations have for decades been reported as a possible adverse effect occurring in individuals using beta-blockers -more specifically, the group of lipophilic beta-blockers - the results from empirical studies are ambiguous in this respect. While it is true that case reports involving *visual hallucinations, *formicative hallucinations, * verbal auditory hallucinations, * musical hallucinations, and other * sensory deceptions in association with the use of beta-blockers have been published, it should be borne in mind that propranolol, historically the first beta-blocker available in the United States, was at one time considered an alternative for the use of antipsychotic agents in the treatment of individuals with a clinical diagnosis of * schizophrenia. Beta-blocker therapy did not live up to this expectation, but the claim that these substances are more than occasionally associated with hallucinatory activity would seem to be ill founded. Insomnia, lively * dreams, and * nightmares, on the other hand, have been reported quite frequently by users of beta-blockers.ReferencesKo, D.T., Hebert, P.R., Coffey, Chr.S., Curtis, J.P., Foody, J.A.M., Sedrakyan, A., Krumholz, H.M. (2004). Adverse effects of ß-blocker therapy for patients with heart failure. A quantitative overview of randomized trials. Archives of Internal Medicine, 164, 1389-1394.Roberts, E., Amacher, P., eds. (1978). Propranolol and schizophrenia. New York, NY: Alan R. Liss.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.