Benadryl for Anxiety (A comprehensive guide)

In this article, we will discuss what “Benadryl for anxiety” means and if it is actually helpful in treating anxiety symptoms.

Additionally, we will talk about what is  Benadryl and what it is commonly used for and the most reported side effects.

Benadryl for Anxiety: Can it be used to treat anxiety?

Benadryl isn’t actually meant to be used as an anxiety treatment, it will make you feel sleepy that will temporarily make you feel less anxious but the effect tends to wear off after a few days of using this medication (tolerance).

As advertised on their site ( “Benadryl Allergy Relief is the fastest-acting allergy relief capsule, it is the only brand to contain acrivastine a unique active ingredient.

Acrivastine starts to work in 15 minutes providing fast relief”. 

It is meant to treat allergy, common cold and hay fever symptoms such as itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing and skin allergies.

The main active component of Benadryl is diphenhydramine and it is an over-the-counter medication classified as an antihistamine.

This comes in various forms such as oral tablets, oral liquid-filled capsules, oral chewable tablets, oral liquid solution, topical cream, topical gel, topical spray or topical stick. 

Are there other over-the-counter medications for Anxiety?

There are several over-the-counter medications that you might use to treat anxiety symptoms.

Let’s check some of them and how can they possibly help with anxiety:

  • Herbal remedies like passionflower, lavender or chamomile: 

These are generally found in the form of sprays, pills, oils or teas, and they have wonderful calming effects.

However, they are not strong enough to treat moderate to severe cases of anxiety.

  • Muscle relaxants or sleep medications

They can have a sedative effect but just like Benadryl does but they can also cause drowsiness as a side effect.

  • Cough syrup, cold medicine or painkillers:

Painkillers, specifically, have the ability to affect certain parts of the brain involved in experiencing emotional pain. 

  • Vitamins and minerals like B complex or magnesium:

Taking vitamins or minerals might not work with controlling your anxiety symptoms unless they are being caused particularly due to a certain deficiency in your body. Add these Best Vitamins & Minerals for Anxiety & Depression to your diet to manage anxiety better.

Benadryl: Are there any side effects? 

While taking Benadryl, some mild and some more serious side effects may occur.

Here is a list of possible side effects but keep in mind there may be more so it is important to check with your doctor or local pharmacist for additional information on them:

  • Sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Some of these side effects can be temporary, ranging from a few days to a few weeks.

But if they tend to get worse or persist, you should get medical advice.

Keep in mind there are more serious side effects and their symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Decreased memory
  • Impaired thinking
  • Dementia
  • Confusion
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Seizures

Long term side effects of Benadryl for Anxiety

Since Benadryl’s usage  is only recommended for a short period of time, when using it long term can cause serious side effects like:

  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Memory problems and dementia (especially in elderly consumers)
  • Anxiety
  • Dependence

Additionally, in children (approved for use in children 6 years of age and older) some of the most common reported side effects are restlessness, irritability or agitation, trouble sleeping, muscle spasms or seizures. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about Benadryl for Anxiety

Do antihistamines help with anxiety?

Antihistamines are used to treat anxiety on a short term basis due to its calming and sedative effect in the brain.

They are most commonly prescribed to treat allergic reactions. Medications like Hydroxyzine are the most prescribed antihistamine for anxiety treatment.

How fast does Benadryl work for anxiety?

Benadryl will work short term to help the consumer feel sleepy and consequently less anxious.

However, benzodiazepines are the preferred prescribed types of drugs to treat anxiety symptoms.

Can Benadryl make anxiety worse?

Chemically similar to over-the-counter diphenhydramine (Benadryl), its most troubling side effect is sleepiness.

It also can lead to weight gain and exacerbate a condition called restless leg syndrome.

The use of medications in the treatment of anxiety can be confusing and worrisome for the average person.

Is there anything over the counter for anxiety?

Unfortunately, there are no over-the-counter non-prescription drug treatments for anxiety disorders.

There are several types of prescription drugs and treatments that can help people with anxiety disorders.

Benzodiazepines: Drugs in the class are used most often to treat anxiety disorders.

How do you calm down anxiety?

There are many existing tips and tricks to help with calming down.

Some of them include but are not limited to breathing exercises, meditation, visualization of calming sceneries, listening to calming music or changing the focus of the situation that made you anxious.

Why is this blog post about Benadryl for Anxiety important?

This post about Benadryl for Anxiety is important because it provides information about what it is understood by “Benadryl for anxiety”, the commercial uses of Benadryl and the most reported side effects.

To recap, Benadryl is not the best option for anxiety treatment due to its short and temporary effects and because it is actually prescribed for the treatment of allergies.

There are actually other drugs indicated for anxiety such as benzodiazepines that can only be prescribed by your doctor after assessing your anxiety symptoms and considering it the best option for you. 

Does Benadryl help with anxiety?

Benadryl is an antihistamine drug not intended to be used to treat anxiety.

It is commonly used for the treatment of allergies but as a side effect, it can cause sedation (i.e. feeling sleepy).

Because of it and the calming effect,  people may use Benadryl for their anxiety symptoms.

Recommended reading

  1. Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride; A Complete Guide
  2. The Allergy Solution
  3. Focus On: 70 Most Popular Sedatives: Sedative, Methaqualone, Ethanol, Ketamine, Quetiapine, Diphenhydramine, Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid, Hydroxyzine, Sodium Thiopental, Drug, etc.
  4. Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride (OTC); Third Edition
  5. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, 6e


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