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> Blood Pressure Drug May Erase Fearful Memories, Propranolol May Help People With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Researchers Say
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post Feb 16, 2009, 06:39 PM
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Original Article: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20...earful-memories

Feb. 16, 2009 -- A commonly used blood pressure medication may also help erase or subdue fearful memories, researchers report in the online edition of Nature Neuroscience.

Scientists at the University of Amsterdam have discovered that the drug propranolol, a beta-blocker, prevents the return of unpleasant memories. The finding could lead to a new realm of treatments for patients with posttraumatic stress and other emotional disorders.

Animal research has shown that fearful memories are not necessarily permanent, but rather that they can change when remembered. In animals, this process, called reconsolidation, appears vulnerable to beta-blockers. Merel Kindt and colleagues wanted to find out if the same was true in people. In their study, 60 undergraduate students aged 18 to 28 viewed fear-related images on a computer and learned to link pictures of spiders with a mild shock to the hand, which created a fearful memory.

After a 24-hour break, the researchers randomly gave each participant either 40 milligrams of propranolol or a placebo (dummy pill). An hour and a half later, they asked the students to view the spider pictures again and to remember what they had learned the day before.

The students who received the beta-blocker propranolol showed no return of fear when viewing the spider pictures, a finding that suggests the entire fear memory was removed.

Propranolol and Memory
Propranolol targets nerve receptors in the part of the brain called the amygdala while it is processing emotional information, according to background information in the journal article. The amygdala helps you learn and respond to fear, create memories, and perceive how you and other's feel. Some think that the use of beta-blockers during reactivation of fearful thoughts may cause the breakdown of the unpleasant memory in the amygdala while leaving other memories untouched.

Changes in Your Personal Identity
However, the possibility of eliminating unpleasant memories isn't without risk, some medical ethics experts say.

"Removing bad memories is not like removing a wart or a mole," Daniel Sokol, lecturer in medical ethics at St George’s, University of London, says in a statement. "It will change our personal identity since who we are is linked to our memories. It may perhaps be beneficial in some cases, but before eradicating memories, we must reflect on the knock-on effects that this will have on individuals, society, and our sense of humanity."
By Kelli Miller Stacy
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post Feb 16, 2009, 10:53 PM
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I've been on 80 mg of propranolol a day (along with other antihypertensives) for years. And I can't remember anything at all! If only I could stop worrying about the future as well, and that would be ideal!
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post Feb 16, 2009, 11:07 PM
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Incidentally, on occasions I've had to come off propranolol and I have had tremendous dreams - couldn't wait for the next night!

For Info:

Propranolol was invented by the Scottish pharmacologist and Nobel Prize Winner, Sir James Whyte Black, in the late 50's while he was with ICI [later became AstraZeneca] and is quite difficult for some people to pronounce. That given name was possibly a marketing ploy to encourage people to use the trade names most of which are easier to pronounce (eg Inderal, Deralin; though Avlocardyl is still a mouthful).
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Rick
post Feb 17, 2009, 11:29 AM
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Reminds me of the movie The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
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post Feb 17, 2009, 12:00 PM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Feb 17, 2009, 11:29 AM) *

Reminds me of the movie The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

I took propranoLOL to forget that!!!
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trojan_libido
post Feb 18, 2009, 03:08 AM
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Bah, Its a good film! It touches on something that will undoubtedly become reality at some point. I didn't like it much when I saw it, but a resit gave me quite a bit of respect for its creation.
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Animal research has shown that fearful memories are not necessarily permanent, but rather that they can change when remembered.
This is absolutely true. Its called rose tinted glasses and there are many examples of it! lol. The best one is probably the absolute fear and pain in a mother giving birth for the first time. Once the baby is born, all the memories of pain and fear disappear! The actual event is ridiculously harsh, yet the memory of it is a 'beautiful experience'. Many new mothers actually long to be pregnant again, disregarding what is left of the birth memory.

Maybe its pointless the body storing pain and fear as memories because it creates unnecessary psychological issues. The pain and fear are only really relevant at the time of the event that caused them, and much much less important when analysing a possible scenario for pain or fear.

Imagine how incapacitated we'd be if whenever we remembered a difficult time in our lives we were inundated with pain and fear signals. It'd be crippling!
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The students who received the beta-blocker propranolol showed no return of fear when viewing the spider pictures, a finding that suggests the entire fear memory was removed.
Isn't it possible the fear was blocked for an unknown duration?
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post Feb 18, 2009, 09:21 AM
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QUOTE(trojan_libido @ Feb 18, 2009, 03:08 AM) *

Bah, Its a good film!

I didn't know there was a film!
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Jourdan
post Mar 31, 2009, 01:18 PM
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Propranolol is the best drug I've taken for anxiety, but its effects are not long lasting. I will need to look into the neuropharmacology of it to find out why (I think it has a short halflife)

Introspectively, I'm not sure if it's placebo, but I also feel more confident and 'loose' with propranolol, as if I had consumed alcohol (without the disorientation).
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post Mar 31, 2009, 01:35 PM
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Nice music in that film.

Propranolol is indicated and well accepted for anxiety, and as such can reduce social anxiety. Hence the feelings of confidence and 'looseness'. Alcohol potentiates propanolol actually, but that includes drowsiness.

One of the best uses of propanolol is to prevent the shakiness due to nerves when doing things like making presentations or speeches.

And of course it is a well trusted prophylactic for migraines.

Not forgetting its antihypertensive action that is probably the best known.

In the drug world, it is one of the good guys, but like all drugs, for some will have profound side-effects and it is certainly contraindicated in some medical conditions and doesn't mix well with some other medications.
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magellan
post Jan 08, 2010, 10:16 PM
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was on propanolol for a short time
effects wore off
sides were too extreme
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