Beta blockers slow your heart rate. Doctors prescribe it for patients dealing with cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure or to treat mental health issues such as anxiety. They are so effective at calming people down that they have been banned from some sporting events that require steady, controlled movements, such as archery or fishing.
Now, as it turns out, beta blockers can help reduce the sedative effects. Violence. A new study published on January 31 by Magazine PLOS Medicine They found that people who took beta blockers were less likely to become violent or be accused of violent crimes. The authors believe it will open more doors for drugs to be used to treat mental issues such as aggression and violence.
“Beta blockers work by blocking the action of adrenaline and noradrenaline, hormones associated with stress and the basis of the ‘fight or flight’ response,” said Sina Fazal, a psychiatry researcher at the University of Oxford and co-author. The study told The Daily Beast in an email. She added that this body response is in response to “stressful and threatening situations.”
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By blocking the effects of adrenaline, beta blockers make the heart beat normally and calm down, blunting the increase in physiological processes that can encourage a person to work harder or harder. And other studies have shown that beta blockers can help treat some mental health problems like depression, anxiety, And even arachnophobia.
For the new study, the researchers looked at 1.4 million beta blocker users in Sweden over eight years from 2006 to 2013, assessing how the patients behaved when they were taking the drug and when they were off it. The authors found that those taking beta-blockers were 13 percent less likely to be charged with a violent crime and 8 percent less likely to be hospitalized for mental illness.
Of course, these are only correlations—meaning the researchers don’t know for sure whether beta blockers are having the effect or not. The associations varied with the subjects’ past psychiatric history and heart disease status. And the researchers also found an 8 percent increase in suicidal behavior in people on beta blockers when they were treated.
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However, Fazal said that beta blockers are not “the cause of this increased risk of suicide” and that it may be due to an adverse psychological reaction to the physical problems that users experience, such as heart problems.
It is important to note that there is much that scientists do not yet understand about beta blockers and their effects. Some studies have shown in the past that there is a link between the use of the drug and an increase in suicidal ideation. However, there is insufficient research to establish a conclusive relationship.
The authors say that more research is needed on the association of beta blockers and reduce violence, if any it is. Evidence that the drug works to curb aggressive tendencies may be used to help individuals struggling with anger and aggression gain control over their emotions and actions.
“We hope that the findings will inform research using different study designs, such as randomized controlled trials of beta blockers for violence and violence in high-risk groups,” he said.
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