Autistic Children

Autistic Children May Get Anxiety Relief With Beta Blockers

News 29 May 2024 30 Views

A recent study by researchers at the University of Missouri found a solution of anxiety relief for Autistic children in the form of propranolol and other beta-blockers. The study, led by David Beversdorf, studied the effect of the drug on kids and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. 

People with anxiety disorders experience unnecessary ‘fight or flight’ activation in response to sensitive threats. Individuals who have autism spectrum disorder experience the same issue during various life stages. Scientists suggest that using similar anxiety drugs for both medical conditions may help control excessive sympathetic system activation. 

Behavioral neurologist David Beversdorf proposed the idea and conducted thorough research on the matter. Seventy-four autistic individuals between 7–24 years of age participated in the trial, where they were given either propranolol or a placebo for 12 weeks. The control group noticed marked benefits and showed less anxious behavior. 

Participants expressed relief from the results. One person who was hesitant to go for a driving test said he felt highly confident after week 6 of the trial. According to Beversdorf, the subject not only passed the test but also started driving regularly.  

Propranolol is a beta-adrenergic agent that works by blocking adrenaline, thus lowering heart rate and blood pressure. An independent epidemiologist at Emory University, Lawrence Scahill, supported the notion of using the drug for anxiety. “If you boost the person’s parasympathetic tone, they won’t be so prone to fight or flight.”

The drug was well tolerated by both the treatment and control groups. The expected therapeutic benefits of reduced heart rate and blood pressure were surveyed without any unfavorable outcomes. “However, a similar anxiety threshold for all entering participants may have produced more notable results,” said Scahill. “A specified age range, e.g., adolescents, may also have produced less diluted effects.”

Beversdorf plans to further research on the subject with a larger trial incorporating marked biomarkers of result detection. “The medicine is readily available, making it easy for trial use,” said Beversdorf.  

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