While a variety of medications can treat anxiety, many of them have the potential to be highly addictive or have unwanted side effects such as drowsiness. These reasons are why many people look for alternatives to the benzodiazepines – a typical medication for anxiety. Atenolol, and other beta-blockers, are often prescribed as non-addictive medications for anxiety.
Beta-blockers, such as Atenolol, reduce the effects adrenaline (epinephrine) has on the heart. They allow the heart to relax and reduces some of the physical effects of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, shaking, etc. Atenolol is generally not prescribed for long-term use, as it could affect heart rhythm and blood pressure.
Atenolol has a high potential for side effects, and should only be taken as prescribed. Due to the potentially harmful side effects, it is likely to be prescribed temporarily for situational anxiety, i.e. public speaking or exams. Even though they can be addictive, benzodiazepines are probably the best medication for long term daily use. Speak to your doctor about which drug would be best for you.