Does Benadryl cause depression? (A comprehensive guide)

In this comprehensive guidepost, we will answer the question, “ Does Benadryl cause depression?”, we will then explore the topic depression, Benadryl including its uses, dose, side effects, active ingredients and working mechanism, further we will discuss Benadryl Addiction and its relation with depression and finally address some of the frequently asked questions concerning the topic.

Benadryl causes depression although not directly because:

  • It results in decreased quality of sleep
  • Makes the person tired and lethargic
  • Decreases the amount of time for deep sleep
  • Takes away interest in daily activities
  • Cause severe impairment in the sleep cycle
  • Lack of energy
  • Dizziness and forgetfulness
  • Poor focus in everyday functioning
  • Blocks acetylcholine


It is a brand name with the generic name as Diphenhydramine. Benadryl is clubbed under the group of medication called Antihistamine and is an over the counter. Histamine is a chemical that helps protect our body from allergens.

The major use of Benadryl is for the treatment of fever, seasonal allergies and for skin itchiness primarily caused by insect bites, hives or bee sting. 

There are different forms and are available in a wide range of products such as a tablet of Benadryl, a liquid form, capsules, topical cream and gel, oral liquid filling capsules and chewable tablets. 

Benadryl is the first generation antihistamines which cause sleepiness and other side effects more than the second-generation antihistamine. H 1 Blocker subtype of antihistamine is primarily used for the treatment of allergy which is further grouped into the first-generation and second generation. Cetirizine is second-generation antihistamines. 


Depression is believed to be the key cause of disability around the world. It is a mood disorder characterised by the feeling of persistent and prolonged low mood, sadness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities: anhedonia, feeling down and low throughout the day, weeks and months. 

Although the feeling of sadness and loss of pleasure is familiar and a normal feeling to every one of us, depression is something that persists and causes severe impairment in an individual’s life. It can affect people from any age group ranging from children, adolescent, adult and geriatric population.

The duration of depressive episodes differs and varies from each individual wherein, for some cases, it lasts for about 2 weeks while in others it might persist for months and years.

Symptoms of Depression

Despite Depression being a mood disorder and causing severe impairment in the individual, there are other associated effects of depression in the everyday functioning of the individual. 

It can take a toll on one’s psychological health, physical health, job performance, social relation and overall well-being. 

The three noting symptoms of Depression are:

  • Fatigability, tiredness and feeling of exhaustion
  • Anhedonia, loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Depressed mood or prolonged sadness

Some of the other signs and symptoms of Depression are:

  • Sustained and prolonged depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities or those that one enjoys doing
  • Loss of sexual drives
  • Fluctuations in body weight
  • Disruption in sleep cycle resulting in insomnia and hypersomnia
  • Muscle agitation, restlessness and twitches
  • Disruption and disturbance in speech
  • Fatigue and low energy in performing daily task
  • A feeling of worthlessness and excessive guilt
  • Recurrent thoughts on death, suicide and attempts for suicide.
  • Impairment in concentration and attention

These are some of the major signs and symptoms of Depression. The severity and the interference of these symptoms differ and varied individually owing to other underlying reasons.

Active Ingredient of Benadryl and it’s product

In most of the Benadryl products, there is a key ingredient which is diphenhydramine and for others, there are two major ingredients, Diphenhydramine and Zinc, a skin protectant.

Some of the Benadryl products are:

Benadryl Allergy

It is a product of Benadryl that contains an active ingredient which is an Antihistamine, Diphenhydramine.

Benadryl Allergy with Congestion

The two key ingredients of this product are Diphenhydramine and Phenylephrine.

Benadryl Itch Stopping Cream

Diphenhydramine and Zinc are the two major ingredients of this cream.

Benadryl itch cooling gel

There is no antihistamine in this product however, it contains a pain reliever called Camphor and it is often applied to our skin.

These are the major Benadryl products which are easily available and accessible in the market, pharmacy and grocery stores.

Working of Benadryl and duration

Since Benadryl is an antihistamine, it blocks the effect of histamine, which our body releases when we have allergy and cold. Histamine causes symptoms like swelling, inflammation and running nose. Benadryl being an Antihistamine decreases the likelihood of such symptoms and it’s severity.

When Benadryl is taken via the mouth or orally, it starts to work within the 15-30 minutes of intake. When gel and creams are applied, it works immediately.

Uses of Benadryl

There are different uses of Benadryl and not all of it are approved and recommended by the FDA. Some of the major use of Benadryl are:

  • It is used for the treatment of allergies and severe reaction to allergy
  • Effective in the treatment of common cold and related symptoms
  • Cure running nose, Parkinson’s Diseases and other movement-related disorders.
  • Treatment of insect bites and skin rashes
  • It is the first-choice treatment for respiratory-related allergies.
  • Helps in the improvement of quality of sleep and improve sleep
  • Used for treatment of motion sickness and nausea
  • Diphenhydramine present in Benadryl is used for the treatment of migraine
  • It produces a mild euphoric stage and relaxation
  • Treatment for insomnia
  • Benadryl is used for the treatment of fever

Dosage of Benadryl

The dosage of Benadryl depends on different factors such as the type of condition that is used for the treatment of Benadryl, your age and the form/ type of Benadryl used by the individual.

It is ideal or always recommended to start off the dose with small strength and gradually increase it to produce the desired effect.

Dosage for the treatment of allergies and fever is 25-50mg after every 4-6 hours.

For cold-related symptoms, the ideal dosage is 25-50mg with a gap of 4-6 hours.

In case of pain and itchy skin from insect bites and other causes, it is best to apply Benadryl cream or gel thrice daily. 

The dosage for children belonging to the age group of 6-11 years is 12.5-25mg after every four to five hours. And the use of Benadryl for children below the age of 6 years is not approved yet.

Maximum dose of Benadryl per day should not exceed 300mg for adults and 150mg for children. Also, the use of oral Benadryl products should not exceed 6 times a day. 

Side effects of Benadryl

Benadryl can cause or result in severe as well as mild side effects. While some of the side effects are caused immediately after the intake of Benadryl, there are more possible side effects exhibited after some days of usage.

Some of the common side effects of Benadryl are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Stomach upset
  • Constipation

These are the common side effects associated with the use of Benadryl. While some of those fade away with time, the severe ones require intervention from medical professionals.

Some serious side effects associated with the use of Benadryl are:

  • Decreased memory functioning
  • Impairment in thinking and cognition
  • Dementia
  • Pacing heartbeat
  • Seizure
  • Blurred vision
  • Dependence
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucination
  • Restless leg syndromes
  • Fluctuation in weight
  • Impairment in driving skills
  • Daytime Drowsiness
  • Loss of coordination

These are major symptoms of Benadryl which can be short term as well as long term.

Precautions in taking Benadryl

There are certain precautions and caveats before starting the medication of Benadryl. 

Although the use of Benadryl by pregnant women for a short term is safe and is often used to treat severe allergic reactions through injection, it shouldn’t be used in the last weeks of pregnancy. Doing so results in an increased risk of eye-related diseases. 

Taking Benadryl by mothers who are breastfeeding can have a severe and serious side effect on the child as well as it reduces the milk supply of the mother. In place of Benadryl, certain other Antihistamines like cetirizine, loratadine and desloratadine can be used.

Drug Interaction

There are certain drugs that interact with Benadryl such as Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors, other over the counter medicines, other medications of anxiety, insomnia and sleep. 

Benadryl  Addiction

Diphenhydramine is used for recreations as well as for self-medication. It is widely used and considered to be a safe option. The drug is accessible to people from all age groups since it is considered to be cheap. It is usually recommended not to use sedatives or other Benadryl products since it increases the risk of a drug overdose and results in respiratory failure. 

Those who are dealing with sleep-related problems like insomnia and those who are on antipsychotic medication have a higher chance or vulnerability to the development of diphenhydramine addictions. 

Apart from that, those individuals who disregard the risk and danger of the medication have a higher chance of improper administration resulting in allergic directions. 

There are both physical and psychological effects associated with Diphenhydramine addictions. Physical effects of the addiction include excessive drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, dry mouth, weakness, inability to urinate and nausea. While the psychological effects of it include anxiety, mood swings, confusions, nightmare, poor focus and short term memory loss.

Benadryl and Depression

Although there is no direct effect of Benadryl on depression, regular and daily use of Benadryl does result in severe depression in the individual. 

It is believed to be helpful only for the short term, however, long term use of Benadryl results in certain depressive symptoms in the individual

  • It doesn’t lead to healthy and quality sleep although it makes us fall asleep quicker
  • It blocks the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine that plays a major role in REM Sleep
  • Fatigues and sedation due to lack of deep sleep and next-day hangover effect
  • Poor focus and attention
  • It makes the person sleep and tired
  • Lack of energy and lethargic
  • The medicine results in loss of interest in doing other activities.

These are some of the results of the use of Benadryl on a daily basis which can cause and makes the person more vulnerable to depression, Although there is no direct effect of it on depression, the domino effect of it results in severe depressive episodes.

FAQs: Does Benadryl cause depression

Does Benadryl affect mood?

There is no serious effect of Benadryl on the mood of the person however in case of such side effects, one should report to a medical professional for further assessments.

Can you take Benadryl with depression medicine?

Yes, Benadryl can be taken with other medicine for depression however it will cause severe side effects and increase the risk of it.

Can antihistamines make you depressed?

Yes, there is a reported increase in the risk of anxiety and depression after the use of Antihistamine.

Is it OK to take Benadryl every night?

No, it is not good to take Benadryl every night since it results in blood pressure and heart palpitation.

Is depression a side effect of Benadryl?

No, depression is not a direct side effect of Benadryl.


In this comprehensive guidepost, we answered the question, “ Does Benadryl cause depression?”, we explored the topic depression, Benadryl including its uses, dose, side effects, active ingredients and working mechanism, further we discussed Benadryl Addiction and its relation with depression and finally addressed some of the frequently asked questions concerning the topic.


Brady, K. (2020). Read This If You Take Benadryl To Help You Sleep. huffpost.

Medical Network. (2019). Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Medical News Today.

Pappan, B. (2018). Can Benadryl make you depressed? Quora.

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