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A massive dose of propranolol can prove physically harmful - even fatal. It can cause congestive heart failure, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, slow heartbeat, short breath, sluggishness, weakness and seizures.
It can also cause seizures and delirium.
The patient could even have been in a coma (unconscious 6 hours or longer) and might have suffered some brain trauma as a result of the coma or of the seizures (or the seizures were caused by the trauma of the drug.
People who overdose may have problems formulating thoughts, communicating their needs, and may have significant mood and/or personality changes.
These effects are usually somewhat temporary. Mood and personality changes can last several hours. Memory problems may continue for weeks or months after the overdose.
The patient may actually be having panic attacks, which include symptoms of irregular or rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. These symptoms, however, are typical of propranolol overdose, and can easily be confused.
Most important, it must not be forgotten that this person already had a serious mental problem that led him or her to try to commit suicide. It could be Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, or perhaps due to the results of earlier mental trauma such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment, leading to Borderline Personality Disorder or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. All of these factors could have let to the original suicide attempt.
It most likely did not happen spontaneously to a normally functioning, emotionally stable person.
If I can be of further assistance on the mental health aspect of this case, please feel free to get back to me.
Elliott, MAE, LPCC NCC, CCMHC
I shall keep this person in my prayers for full recovery.
Dear Doctor -- In January 2013, my husband overdosed on inderol, a drug he had been taking for more than 40 years for an essential tremor. Previous reviews with neurologists showed no signs of Parkinson's or other issues. In December 2011, he had a major car accident -- and was overdosed with morphine, while in clinic for shoulder injuries. The morphine produced major memory/nightmares etc for a number of months.
The events leading to his suicide attempt in January 2013 -- were the result of one of your "typical" marital disagreements. The next morning, apologies all around and "everything is okay". I have a cardiac issue, so I walk for an hour up hill and down. When I returned, he seemed odd, I asked "what have you done"? He told me (he had taken about 10,000mg of inderol) and I immediately called emergency services. He was taken to hospital by helicopter and put in an induced coma. When he arrived in the emergency services by helicopter he pulse was almost non-existent. When they brought him "back" he then spent two weeks in a psychiatric clinic -- then insisted (against the wishes of the psychiatrist and mine) on returning home.
During this time, I was confronted with keeping myself together emotionally while heating an old French farmhouse with wood only, looking after two dogs, three cats. I have a history of depression dating from the age of six created by the loss of my grandfather.
I was 62 at the time of his suicide attempt. He was 75, but in good health. We are successful independent writers. But he has cultivated a public "personna", while I am just me -- we work together and have for more than 30 years.
Since his attempted suicide, I immediately sought the help of a psychologist. My husband derides these efforts and today I was forced to kill one of our cats who "keeps me from sleeping". The vet would not do this for ethical reasons. So I used sleeping pills to calm the cat and then he dosed the animal with inderol.
We've been married 31 years. He has two children which I helped to raise who were fulltime in our household. He did not wish to have children with me (and refused a vasectomy) as it might "impact on his writing skills".
We both wrestle with the demon alcohol, but can go months without a drop.
IRMs taken after his suicide attempt showed no abnormalities -- but the memory loss, aggression, resistance to working problems through logically, furtive spending sprees, and things that I never thought he would do -- like demanding the cat be put down are happening now.
I have spent five very useful months in therapy in France where we live. He on the other hand refuses to take anti-depressants or to deal with a psychologist/psychiatrist. And his general doctor is incompetent and only anxious to collect his fees.