Can Benadryl be used for anxiety?

Can you use diphenhydramine (diphenhydramine) to treat anxiety disorders? If you have anxiety and don’t like traditional medications or have not yet seen a doctor, you may be wondering if over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as Benadryl can help you manage your symptoms.

But there are many questions: are they safe? Do their work? What are the advantages and disadvantages? And, can you use them to supplement other treatments you might receive? This article considers each of these questions to help you choose an over-the-counter medication such as Benadryl to treat anxiety.

Over-the-counter medications for anxiety

First thing: You may want to know whether over-the-counter medications are effective in treating anxiety disorders. To answer this question, let us first consider the different over-the-counter drugs that may be used to treat anxiety, because Benadryl is just one of many drugs.

Antihistamines and other sedatives

Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in Benadryl) are used to control allergic reactions, but they can also cause sedation as a side effect. Some people take Benadrine to treat anxiety disorders because it can produce sedative and sleep-inducing side effects. In fact, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), some doctors may even prescribe Benadrine for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders.

Benadryl takes about 15 to 30 minutes to start working, and its peak effect appears about 2 to 4 hours after taking it. The adult dose for sedation is 25 to 50 mg. However, these effects are less than the effects of prescription sedatives such as benzodiazepines.

In addition to the sedative effects of antihistamines, other over-the-counter drugs can also cause sedation and drowsiness, most notably those sold as muscle relaxants or sleep medicines.

Benadryl is not the only antihistamine that is sometimes used off-label to relieve anxiety. Sometimes, the doctor may also prescribe Vistaril (hydroxyzine), an antihistamine similar to benadrine, for short-term treatment of anxiety.

Herbal therapy

There are many herbs that are generally considered safe and can relieve anxiety symptoms. Some of them include:

Herbs can come in the form of teas, sprays, pills, oils, or tinctures. Like other treatments for anxiety disorders, herbs also have a calming effect, but they are usually mild.

These herbs are not effective in treating acute anxiety symptoms. It is best to use herbs under the guidance of a doctor to help you relax or fall asleep, rather than as the first line of defense against severe anxiety.


Various painkillers may act on parts of the brain involved in emotional painful experiences. In fact, a study by the University of British Columbia concluded that over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) have an impact on emotional distress and anxiety triggers.

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Vitamins and minerals

Most people know that vitamins and minerals are important for physical health, but can taking them reduce anxiety? Unfortunately, unless you are deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, taking vitamin or mineral supplements is unlikely to reduce anxiety symptoms. That being said, there is no harm in taking a multivitamin daily under the guidance of a doctor to support your overall health.

Safety of over-the-counter medications for anxiety disorders

The safety of using over-the-counter medications to treat anxiety usually depends on the medications you take and how you use them. Some security issues to consider include:

  • Drug interactions: Always tell your doctor which over-the-counter drugs and supplements you are taking, because there is always a risk of interactions between supplements or other drugs you may be taking.
  • Intended use: Most of the over-the-counter drugs that may be used to treat anxiety, such as antihistamines, although approved as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have not yet been approved to relieve anxiety symptoms.
  • Long-term effects: Most over-the-counter drugs and supplements can only be taken on a regular basis, and there are few studies on long-term use. Therefore, taking them regularly brings the risk of side effects and the possibility of abuse.
  • Regulation: Herbal supplements are regulated differently from drugs, and long-term studies on efficacy and safety are often lacking. However, most supplements are safe to use under the guidance of a doctor.
  • Side effects: For certain supplements, such as kava kava, people are worried about serious side effects, such as liver damage. It is important to be aware of the potential side effects of any herbal supplements you take, and if there are any side effects, please contact your doctor.
  • Possibility of overdose: Although rare, if you take too much, you may overdose over-the-counter drugs. Be sure to take only the recommended dose and store your medicine out of the reach of children. Even with over-the-counter drugs and supplements, taking too much can be dangerous. Although deaths from overdose of drugs such as benadine are rare, the resulting heart problems can be life-threatening.

If you take too much Benadrine and are at risk of overdose, please seek emergency help. You can call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 24 hours a day. Overdose can cause symptoms such as increased heart rate, inability to urinate, blurred vision, agitation, confusion, lethargy, and instability. Conditions that require immediate help include difficulty breathing, hallucinations, seizures, and unresponsiveness.

The pros and cons of over-the-counter medications for anxiety

Although taking over-the-counter medications to relieve anxiety has some benefits, there are also many potential disadvantages to consider. Before you take any over-the-counter medications due to anxiety, be sure to consult your doctor to help avoid adverse reactions and harmful drug interactions.


  • The risk of dependence and withdrawal is lower than prescribed sedatives

  • May help sleep and relax

  • Easy and cheap to get

  • May be useful for short-term anxiety attacks

  • It may be useful if you are opposed to taking traditional medicine to treat anxiety

  • May help supplement other treatments, such as psychotherapy


  • May cause daytime sleepiness

  • Not effective for severe anxiety

  • Not approved by the FDA for the treatment of anxiety disorders, or not regulated by the FDA

  • Not suitable for long-term use for anxiety disorders

  • Potential side effects


Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs commonly used to treat severe anxiety symptoms, which can lead to dependence, tolerance and withdrawal, especially when they are taken regularly for a long time, so over-the-counter drugs may be an attractive option. People who are anxious about drug addiction. This risk is unlikely to occur with over-the-counter drugs, although diphenhydrala clearly has the potential to be abused.

One of the biggest advantages of using over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl to treat anxiety is that it works quickly and is convenient. If you need to quickly reduce the symptoms of mild anxiety, these qualities may be helpful. Because Benadrine makes many people feel drowsy, it also helps sleep.


However, it is also important to remember that antihistamines like Benadryl can also have unpleasant side effects. Some people may experience severe drowsiness, fatigue, and dizziness.

It is also important to remember that these over-the-counter medications should not be used to treat severe anxiety disorders or as a long-term solution. These drugs and supplements have not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of anxiety disorders. If you have symptoms of anxiety, please discuss your treatment plan with your doctor to ensure that the best treatment plan is developed for you.

Over-the-counter medications to supplement other anxiety treatments

Other types of anxiety treatment may include talk therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and acceptance-based therapies) and prescription drugs (such as benzodiazepines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

In theory, you can use over-the-counter medications to treat anxiety disorders while receiving other treatments. But first, ask yourself why. Some common reasons for continuing to use over-the-counter drugs and other treatments include:

  • You are undergoing treatment and need further relief of acute symptoms, but you are cautious about taking prescription drugs.
  • You are taking a prescription drug, but you are waiting for it to take effect and need short-term relief.
  • You are already using alternative therapies and want to add over-the-counter medications to your treatment plan.

In all these cases, it may be better to consult a doctor. They can help you determine the best treatment option for you. If you only receive talk therapy and want a short-term solution to mild anxiety that mainly troubles you at night, then over-the-counter solutions may help, but it is best to consult a doctor first.

Never combine over-the-counter medications with prescription medications used to treat anxiety disorders without a doctor’s advice, because drug interactions and side effects may occur.

Who should use over-the-counter drugs?

A study of 690 German pharmacists determined that people seeking over-the-counter treatments for anxiety and depression:

  • More likely to be younger
  • Shorter course
  • Mild symptoms
  • Skeptical of psychopharmacology

However, researchers question whether O​​TC treatment is a logical or cost-effective solution to these problems. Most people who buy over-the-counter medications for anxiety disorders may benefit from professional help in the form of talk therapy or prescription medications. The exception may be a very mild anxiety disorder, which seems to be helped by providing relaxing herbal remedies before going to bed.

Although some doctors may recommend over-the-counter medicines such as benadrine to children and adolescents, it is especially important not to let children use benadrine to treat anxiety without first consulting a doctor. Diphenhydramine may be dangerous to young children and may not be the best course of treatment for children’s symptoms.

Very good sentence

When your anxiety symptoms worsen, going to the pharmacy to buy antihistamines or painkillers seems to be a quick and easy solution, but there are risks in using OTC drugs, especially when they use off-label drugs for symptoms and they don’t plan to treat them. .

Be sure to discuss your symptoms and any over-the-counter treatment options you are considering with your doctor or mental health professional. Before starting a new treatment, it is best to obtain guidance on the use of OTC medications and herbal supplements from your provider to ensure you get the correct treatment.