April 1, 1992

β-Blockers and DepressionThe Clinician's Dilemma

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Methodist Hospital, Houston, Tex.

JAMA. 1992;267(13):1826-1827. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480130142042

Since their introduction over a quarter of a century ago, β-adrenergic receptor antagonists (β-blockers) have been among the most commonly prescribed and useful of all medications.1 Beyond their cardiovascular applications in the treatment of hypertension, arrhythmias, and angina pectoris, and for the prophylaxis of myocardial infarctions in those who have suffered a prior myocardial infarction, β-blockers are currently and increasingly being used for a broad variety of other conditions ranging from performance anxiety, migraine headaches, glaucoma, hyperthyroidism, and hand tremors to the treatment of rage and violent behavior in individuals with brain lesions or injury. Briefly following the introduction of β-blockers, reports appeared in the medical literature associating their use with clinical depression. One of the earliest and most frequently cited articles reported a 50% incidence of depression in patients who had received 120 mg/d of propranolol hydrochloride for periods extending beyond 3 months.2

See also p 1783.