Propanolol, a beta-blocker used against migraines, could soon be prescribed in case of heartbreak. Explanations. Have you ever heard of Propanolol? This drug (nicknamed “the pill of forgetfulness”) was administered to 360 victims of the November 13, 2015 attacks, during a clinical trial conducted between 2016 and 2018.
Named “Paris Mémoire Vive”, this clinical trial (led by Canadian psychiatrist and researcher Alain Brunet) aimed to combat the effects of post-traumatic stress. Given the good results obtained, Dr. Brunet wanted to experiment with this therapy to relieve heartache. According to our colleagues in Le Parisien, since January 2019, he has also been training French doctors in this new therapy. Appeared in the 1980s to treat migraines, Propanolol belongs to the family of beta-blockers: these drugs act by blocking the action of adrenaline on many organs, including the heart, vessels, and bronchi. It is now used to treat high blood pressure, migraines, certain heart rhythm disorders, liver cirrhosis, and thyroid disorders.
Heartbreak, sometimes as devastating as post-traumatic stress
“Heartbreak sounds light. It’s not life-threatening. But while some people react well, for others, the ground shifts beneath their feet. It can then lead to an adjustment disorder, just like post-traumatic stress. These are repetitive thoughts, an urge to cry, nausea, distress. It is for these patients that the therapy is aimed” explained Dr. Brunet.
In Canada, Propanolol already helps broken hearts. Supervised by a psychologist or a psychiatrist, the patient takes a tablet and writes down in black and white his traumatic memory (break-up, divorce, painful separation…). One hour later, while the medication is taking effect, he reads his text again. By moving from short-term to long-term memory, the trauma loses its intensity… and you can live with it.
Some breakups can be experienced as real traumas, which are carried around like a ball and chain for several months or even years. These effects could be mitigated, says a Canadian doctor known for his work on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. The solution? This sort of magic pill.