Immediate Treatment With Propranolol Decreases Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Two Months After Trauma

Biol Psychiatry. 2003 Nov 1;54(9):947-9. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(03)00412-8.


Background: This study investigated the efficacy of propranolol prescribed shortly after trauma exposure in the prevention of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and diagnosis.

Methods: Eleven patients received 40 mg of propranolol 3 times daily for 7 days, followed by a taper period of 8-12 days. They were compared with eight patients who refused propranolol but agreed to participate in the study. Though nonrandomized, the two groups did not differ on demographics, exposure characteristics, physical injury severity, or peritraumatic emotional responses.

Results: Posttraumatic stress disorder rates were higher in the group who refused propranolol (3/8) compared with those who received the medication (1/11), as were the levels of PTSD symptoms (U = 85, p =.037).

Conclusions: Our results are consistent with earlier findings and suggest that propranolol may be useful for mitigating PTSD symptoms or perhaps even preventing the development of PTSD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Propranolol / administration & dosage
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / drug therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Propranolol