One can find more than a dozen of various medications for anxiety relief that claim to be effective. Yet the reality is such that most of them provide no results at all, while the rest is addictive and loses its efficacy in case of a prolonged administration. Benadryl for anxiety is the happy medium that is affordable, effective and non-addictive.
Benadryl for Anxiety: Mechanism of Action
Though it was originally approved in 1946, since that time Benadryl for anxiety has been studied many times, and it explains why it has so many different uses. It was firstly prescribed as the medication to treat allergic reactions of upper respiratory allergies or even food allergies. It used to treat cold symptoms, too and proved its efficacy when it came to watery eyes and runny nose, sneezing and even coughing. Hives, high fever and itchy skin can be treated with it as well.
The medication is widely-known for its anti-cholinergic effects that are called to be exceptions to prevent motion sickness or treat minor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
Today it is prescribed to deal with anxiety. The medication is referred as quite sedating and because of this feature it should better be administered before going to bed. Those, who experience anxiety in the daytime, feel really sedated, which is why they should better not drive any vehicle or operate heavy machinery. When taken for anxiety, it blocks the action of acetylcholine and causes drowsiness.
What about the off-label uses? They include the treatment of:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD;
- Morning sickness.
Let’s concentrate on your anxiety symptoms. Does Benadryl help with anxiety? It actually does. However, your chances to get better with its help must be discussed with a healthcare provider. As well as any other drug, this one has warnings and precautions and can cause both benefits and drawbacks.
Forms of Benadryl for Anxiety
They are pink and film-coated with “Benadryl” imprinted on one side and the dosage (25 mg) on the other one. The secondary ingredients of the medications are dicalcium phosphate, polysorbate, celluloses, titanium dioxide, starch, zinc stearate, stearic acid, PEG, and wax.
- Chewable tablets
These are 12.5 mg chewable tablets.
The dosage of the capsule is 50 mg. Each capsule is colored pink and contains 50 mg of Diphenhydramine. The secondary ingredients are dicalcium phosphate, polysorbate, celluloses, titanium dioxide, starch, zinc stearate, stearic acid, PEG, and wax.
- Extra strength caplet
These are 50 mg caplets.
Different forms of Benadryl for anxiety are prescribed to patients with different anxiety severity levels depending on many underlying conditions as well as other medications, herbs or supplements taken along.
Dosage of Benadryl for Anxiety
A capsule or tablet of Benadryl contains 25 mg or 50 mg of Diphenhydramine. In case you are prescribed to take the capsules, you should swallow them whole. It is forbidden to open them. The typical doses of the medication are:
- Adults (18-64 years old): 1-2 tablets/capsules taken every 4-6 hours as needed;
- Children older than 12 years: 1-2 tablets/capsules taken every 4-6 hours as needed;
- Children aged 6-11: 1 tablet/capsule every 4-6 hours as needed. They can also have 1-2 teaspoons of the liquid medication every 4-6 hours as needed;
- Children younger than 6 years old are not prescribed Benadryl for anxiety as the effect of the drug in this age hasn’t been started yet.
Benadryl for Anxiety Warnings and Precautions
If you decide to buy Benadryl for anxiety without a prescription from a doctor, there are several safety issues that you should know before you start administering the medication.
To start with, the medication causes drowsiness. On rare occasions, it is offered as an effective sleep aid. However, it is strictly forbidden to use the medication to make a child sleepy: the drug has a quite opposite effect in a child. It becomes a stimulant. The condition of drowsiness can even get worse if the medication is combined with antihistamines. Never drink alcohol, if you are on Benadryl. The two substances increase the effect of drowsiness.
In case you are over 65 years old, the safety and effectiveness of the drug should be discussed. The medication is prescribed to people aged 65+ only when the benefits prevail. Don’t forget to tell your doctor about the underlying conditions you have as they may affect the way Benadryl works:
- Eye-related issues;
- Difficulty passing urine;
- Lung problems, especially chronic bronchitis;
- High blood pressure and heart disease;
- Overactive thyroid.
Benadryl during pregnancy. Over the past years, the administration of Benadryl for anxiety by pregnant women has increased significantly. According to the FDA, the medication belongs to the pregnancy B category medication. What does the B category stand for? It means either:
- Animal studies showed harm, yet the human studies showed no of it;
- Animal studies didn’t prove any risks to the fetus development related to the intake of Benadryl. Yet, there weren’t any well-designed clinical studies in pregnant women in order to prove this fact.
And though, in a case of the administration of Benadryl for anxiety during pregnancy, no negative effects were noticed, most healthcare provider still suggest avoiding taking the medication when trying to conceive or when being already pregnant.
Benadryl while breastfeeding. The use of the medication by nursing mothers has not been associated with any serious adverse effects in nursing infants. BUT still, a prolonged use of Benadryl for anxiety while breastfeeding is contraindicated. The thing is that the drug is excreted in the breast milk. A long-term administration shows a sufficient decrease of the breast milk supply as well as the negative effects in infants including lethargy and even irritability.
Medications Benadryl for Anxiety Interacts With
It is a known fact that the drug interaction often changes the way both medications work. It either increases risks for serious side effects or decreases the efficacy of drugs. The term ‘possible interactions’ does not refer to the case of Benadryl, so if you take any other drugs, supplements or herbs, tell your doctor and have adjusted doses of both.
The products that may interact with Benadryl are:
- Drugs for sleep;
- Other drugs for anxiety (Zolpidem, Alprazolam or Diazepam);
- Narcotic pain relievers (Codeine);
- Muscle relaxants.
Always check the labels on your cough-and-cold medications as they may contain ingredients, major or secondary, that lead to drowsiness as well. Their combination with Benadryl for anxiety can trigger a potentially life-threatening condition.
Remember that the medication does interfere with the laboratory tests and may cause false test results. Let the laboratory personnel know you are on Benadryl.
Side Effects Caused by Benadryl for Anxiety
Along with other medications for the treatment of anxiety symptoms or their prevention, Benadryl causes side effects. They are either mild or severe. The ones a patient experiences depend on his dose, age, underlying conditions as well as other meds, supplements or herbs that he takes and uses.
Mild side effects are:
- Nausea and/or vomiting;
- Dry throat/nose/mouth;
- Dizziness and drowsiness;
- Headache and appetite decrease or complete loss;
- Muscle weakness and constipation;
- Chest congestion (not severe but increased);
The above-mentioned reactions usually disappear and no special or professional treatment is required. Yet, in case they tend to get more serious and severer, call your healthcare provider or dial 9-1-1. How to know you need help? Help is required if you experience:
- Vision problems;
- Hearing problems;
- Painful urination;
- Difficulty urinating.
Your doctor must be informed of any unusual adverse reactions that you suffer from.
What adverse reactions and complications can be experienced by pregnant women? Their number and severity depend on the dosage taken. The side effects may include dryness of mouth, constipation, and urinary retention. The latter two are very common in most pregnant females, yet Benadryl for anxiety can make them get worse, thus a woman experiences more difficulties than before.
As to the sedating effects that may be provoked during pregnancy, they are fatigue, drowsiness, and dizziness. Fatigue is typically referred as a quite common pregnancy symptom, and when it gets worse due to Benadryl, a woman should avoid driving a car or operating any heavy machinery. We also insist on avoiding taking other anti-anxiety drugs and sleep medications as they do more than increase drowsiness: they also increase risks of fetal death.
Much is written about Benadryl for anxiety. The core fact you need to remember is that it does work as an anxiety-relief medication, though other uses are possible, too. Take it on an as-needed basis. Taking it daily is safe, yet tolerance may develop in a case of a prolonged administration. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as a daily medication for anxiety.