Diphenhydramine for Anxiety: Why It’s Effective And How Fast Does Benadryl Work for anxiety?

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, and it can be a debilitating condition for some. Some people take diphenhydramine for anxiety, but how fast does Benadryl work for anxiety? Let us first explore what anxiety is.

We have several anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder among others. Regardless of the name, anxiety attacks are all the same thing. They are periods of extreme nervousness that may feel like they will never end.

If you have ever experienced this feeling before you can understand how difficult it is to deal with. A person suffering from anxiety may feel timid and afraid of doing anything that could trigger another attack.

It’s not easy to manage constant worry and fear about what could happen in the future or what has happened in the past without taking measures to control those fears. This article will introduce you to a range of practical ways to manage your stress and anxiety symptoms so that you can once again enjoy life again as it was meant to be lived.

How fast does Benadryl work for anxiety?

Benadryl is a fast-acting medication for anxiety even though it is not an FDA-approved medication for anxiety. Its onset of action is about 15 to 30 minutes with its peak effect occurring about 2 to 4 hours after taking it. A maximum dosage of 300 mg per day is taken in up to 6 divided doses for adults and children over 12 years of age.

Benadryl has been prescribed for decades for a wide variety of different uses, including treating allergies, insomnia, and anxiety. At its core, Benadryl is an antihistamine, which means it blocks the production and release of histamine – the chemical that is released during allergic reactions.

Specifically, Benadryl acts as an H1 receptor antagonist, which means that it has a strong affinity for H1 receptors throughout the central nervous system. When you take Benadryl, it blocks H1 receptors, which in turn stops the release of histamine and ultimately stops your allergies from causing symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itching, and watery eyes.

For people with anxiety, Benadryl can be an effective treatment for a number of reasons. First, it blocks the production of histamine (part of the reason it treats allergies so well), which can help stop the production of hormones related to anxiety, like cortisol.

Additionally, it can also be effective for treating insomnia, which is another common anxiety symptom. Benadryl is not a cure for anxiety, but it can be helpful in relieving some of the symptoms associated with it.

Can Benadryl help with anxiety?

Benadryl is not a treatment for anxiety, but it may be helpful in treating some of the symptoms associated with it. It is important to note that Benadryl is not an FDA-approved treatment for anxiety, and it is not intended to be used as a long-term solution.

While there is research suggesting that Benadryl may be helpful in treating some of the symptoms associated with anxiety, such as insomnia and an increase in overall stress, there is no scientific evidence to support its use for anxiety. The effectiveness of Benadryl for anxiety will depend on the individual and the dosage.

The other thing to consider is the Benadryl tolerance. The medication in most cases may work well for your anxiety when you first start using it but the effectiveness reduces with time.

It should be noted that some antihistamines can cause anxiety. However, the good news is that this anxiety normally dissipates once you stop taking medication such as Benadryl.

How does Benadryl work to relieve anxiety?

At its core, Benadryl is an antihistamine, which means it blocks the production and release of histamine – the chemical that is released during allergic reactions. Specifically, Benadryl acts as a H1 receptor antagonist, which means that it has a strong affinity for H1 receptors throughout the central nervous system.

When you take Benadryl, it blocks H1 receptors, which in turn stops the release of histamine and ultimately stops your allergies from causing symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itching, and watery eyes.

For people with anxiety, Benadryl can also be effective in treating a few of the symptoms associated with it. Specifically, Benadryl may be able to help alleviate insomnia and increase overall stress. Benadryl is not a cure for anxiety, but it may be helpful in treating some of the symptoms associated with it.

H1 receptor (inverse agonist): action of diphenhydramine upon central H1 (histamine) receptors

A number of receptor types are present on the cell membrane of H1-receptor-expressing tissues, including the central nervous system (CNS). The binding of an H1-receptor agonist to an H1-receptor in the CNS may result in inverse agonism of the H1-receptor in the CNS.

The binding of H1-receptor inverse agonists to H1-receptors may exhibit a wide range of CNS effects, including anxiolytic effects (anti-anxiety effects).

A major mechanism of action of diphenhydramine as an inverse agonist at central H1 receptors is the reduction of anxiety. H1 receptors are widely distributed in the central nervous system, including the cerebral cortex and the limbic system, where they are involved in regulating anxiety and sleep.

Benadryl is often used to treat anxiety symptoms because it acts as an inverse agonist of H1 receptors – meaning it blocks the receptor sites from receiving any H1 signals.

Interestingly, when you take Benadryl for anxiety you actually experience a reduction in your overall alertness as well as a decrease in the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep.

So, if you are taking Benadryl for anxiety, be sure to note how it makes you feel – as the dosage and frequency of administration may need to be altered depending on the severity of your anxiety.

M1 receptor (competitive antagonist)

Another way that Benadryl can help to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety is by blocking M1 receptors, which are responsible for producing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Acetylcholine is involved in many physiological processes, such as muscle movement, learning, memory, and others. When anxiety becomes overpowering, it can cause you to experience feelings of agitation and restlessness.

Anxiolytic effects are also mediated through M1 (muscarinic) receptors by Benadryl, but it is less than 10-fold its affinity for the H1 receptor. M1 receptors are associated with anxiety and other disorders of the CNS (central nervous system).

Benadryl can help to reduce these symptoms by blocking the M1 receptors in the brain, which reduces the amount of acetylcholine that is available in the brain. This helps to calm the restlessness and agitation that is associated with anxiety.

Diphenhydramine as NET inhibitor

Diphenhydramine also acts as an inhibitor of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine transporter (NET) but its effects are less compared to the H1 inverse agonist effects. Norepinephrine is a hormone that is synthesized from the amino acid tyrosine in the human body.

The effects on the NET are nearly 3-fold lower than its action as an M1 competitive antagonist. This makes it excellent for the norepinephrine system and thus enables anxiety relief.

It is also known as noradrenaline or the neurotransmitter adrenaline. Taking Benadryl for anxiety can increase the amount of noradrenaline in your body, which can help to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, stress, and restlessness.

Diphenhydramine as SERT inhibitor

Taking Benadryl for anxiety can also increase the levels of serotonin in the brain by inhibiting the SERT transporter. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates many physiological processes in the human body, including mood, cognition, sensory perception, and regulating excitability.

To a slightly lesser extent as compared to the alpha-1 receptor antagonism, Benadryl may function as a serotonin transporter (SERT) inhibitor.

When you take Benadryl for anxiety, it acts as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, meaning that it blocks the serotonin transporter and keeps serotonin present in the brain. This is beneficial because serotonin is commonly used in the treatment of anxiety.

How effective is Benadryl for anxiety?

There is no scientific evidence to support the use of Benadryl for anxiety. That said, some people may experience relief from anxiety as a side effect of taking Benadryl, but it’s important to remember that it is not intended for this use. There have been a number of studies testing the effectiveness of Benadryl for anxiety, but the results have been inconclusive.

While Benadryl does have some anti-anxiety properties, it is unlikely to be effective for long-term use. Benadryl is not a long-term solution for anxiety, and its effects are unlikely to last longer than a few days – especially if it is being taken on a daily basis.

In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that long-term use of Benadryl can actually increase anxiety as well as other psychiatric conditions. Benadryl has been shown to cause restlessness, nervousness, dizziness, and increased levels of irritability – all of which are common symptoms of anxiety.

How to take Benadryl for anxiety (Benadryl for anxiety dosage)

For adults and children over 12 years of age, the maximum dosage is 300 mg each day in a maximum of 6 divided doses. The dosage may be reduced based on the severity of the condition being treated.

The standard dosage for adults and children over 12 years of age is 25-50 mg every 4-6 hours as needed. For children under 12 years of age, the standard dosage is 12.5-25 mg every 4-6 hours as needed.

The dosage for Benadryl for anxiety can be adjusted as needed based on the severity of your symptoms. For those who have already been prescribed Benadryl, it is important to note the amount of time it takes to take effect. This varies from person to person, but the general rule of thumb is that it takes approximately 1-2 hours for the medication to kick in.

The downsides of using Benadryl for anxiety

If you experience any of the following side effects after taking Benadryl, you should consult with a doctor. Benadryl can cause significant side effects, especially at higher doses.

  • Anxiety – Benadryl is not intended for the treatment of anxiety and may actually worsen it in some people. Anxiety is often treated with benzodiazepines, like Xanax, or antidepressants. Be sure to let your doctor know if you are experiencing anxiety so they can prescribe the appropriate treatment.
  • Cognitive impairment/ Confusion – Benadryl can cause confusion in some people and make it difficult to concentrate or focus.
  • Impairment or lack of coordination – Benadryl can cause significant impairment or lack of coordination in people who take it regularly.
  • Tremors or seizures – Seizures are a rare, but serious side effect of Benadryl.
  • It can lead to Dependence: Benadryl use can lead to dependence since the more you take the doses, you need to increase for you to get the same benefits.
  • Urinary retention – Benadryl can cause urinary retention in some men, which is difficulty emptying the bladder completely.

It doesn’t treat the underlying cause of the anxiety. Like other antihistamines for anxiety, Benadryl is not an FDA-approved treatment for anxiety It’s not a long-term solution for anxiety

The pros of using Benadryl for anxiety

Taking Benadryl for anxiety is a fast-acting way of managing symptoms and can be taken on an “as-needed” basis. This means that you can take the medication only when you need to – for example, when you know that you are going to be in a stressful or anxiety-inducing situation.

The low cost of Benadryl means that it is easily accessible to almost everyone, and it does not require a long-term commitment like certain prescription medications may. Benadryl is also very safe to take when used “as-needed”, and it has been proven to be effective in the short-term.

It’s safe to take Benadryl when pregnant or breastfeeding. The other benefits of taking Benadryl for anxiety include:

  • Fast onset of action: As discussed above, Benadryl has a fast onset of action with anxiety relief starting in 15 to 30 minutes with its peak effect occurring about 2 to 4 hours after taking it. This ensures that you can get fast relief from panic attacks and other forms of anxiety.
  • Low cost: Benadryl is a low-cost medication that is used for allergies. As such, it is a low-cost medication that can be used for anxiety in the short term without a serious dent in your pocket.
  • Over-the-counter availability: With most anxiety medications being available on a prescription basis, you can use Benadryl for anxiety as an over-the-counter medication.
  • Safe to use: The medication is safe to use and that is the reason it is approved for over-the-counter administration. It however does not calm the anxiety in some cases.

Other benefits include

  • Adjunct potential,
  • Alternative intervention,
  • Anecdotal accounts,
  • Manages the anxiety subtypes,
  • Effective Mechanism of action
  • Manages Medical comorbidities including allergies, itchiness and others
  • Offers a systemic elimination and thus is easy to eliminate
  • It is easily tolerated in the body

Conclusion

While Benadryl can help relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety, it is not an FDA-approved treatment for anxiety and should not be used as a long-term solution. If you are experiencing anxiety, it’s important to seek professional help and speak with a doctor about the best treatment for you.

Benadryl is an effective option for treating the symptoms of anxiety, but it is not a long-term solution. It is best to use it in conjunction with other methods for managing anxiety, such as therapy, mindfulness, or breathing exercises.

Citations:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21950288

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12504920

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/benadryl-for-anxiety

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11374337

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325169

Dr. David Barlow

David is a well-known researcher and author in the anxiety disorders area with extensive research on their etiology, nature, and treatment. He started the site to share his real-life experiences on the management of anxiety disorders with successful diagnosis and treatment being his motivation to write or review the content on this site.