Benadryl is a common drug used to treat allergies. Scientifically known as Diphenhydramine, it is categorized as a first generation antihistamine. Besides allergies, it can also effectively treat other illnesses such as motion sickness, and movement disorders. Some also claim that they benefit when taking Benadryl for anxiety.

Patients ordinarily take the drug orally. However, other routes of administration of the drug are available such as intramuscular injection, intravenous, topical and rectal insertion. The drug is considered safe even for pregnant women. However, some common side effects may occur when taking the drug such as sedation, and faster heart rate.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental disorder that causes people to experience excessive fear or worry. It is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the world. It affects at least 44 million adults in the US alone. Sadly, only about a third of them get the proper treatment. (1)

Anxiety may be due to various factors such as the environment, stress, trauma, or genetics. Its severity can range anywhere from mild worry to disabling panic attacks. Multiple forms of it exist such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorders, and social anxiety disorders. It may also worsen through time if the patient disregards its symptoms.

Can I Use Benadryl For Anxiety?

Benadryl is an over the counter drug that is easily accessible to almost anyone. This availability makes the drug appealing to people looking for a substitute for prescription-only anxiolytic drugs such as Alprazolam or Bromazepam.

During the 1960’s, a study on Diphenhydramine, Benadryl’s main component,  found that the drug is capable of inhibiting the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin. However, further studies on the drug found that the inhibiting property of the drug on serotonin is not enough to be an effective anxiolytic. (2)

Benadryl can help reduce panic attacks due to anxiety by calming down the patient with its sedating properties. However, this is not an approved use of the drug. Misusing Benadryl may result in several side effects. Although the drug is relatively safe, it can harm people who use the drug without consulting a doctor first.

There are dozens of types of anxiety that a person can have. Some of these types need to be treated with a particular drug or therapy.  Hence, it is absurd to say that one type of drug can effectively cure all kinds of anxiety. Because of these, experts warn people against medicines that claim to be the cure for anxiety.

Other Uses Of Benadryl

Experts do not recommend the use of Benadryl for anxiety. However, some studies show that it can be useful for other diseases, some of which the FDA has also approved. Benadryl can effectively treat the following:

  • Allergies: Doctors often prescribe or administer the drug for acute allergic reaction in emergency departments. It is also an adjunct for epinephrine for the treatment of anaphylaxis.
  • Movement Disorders: Benadryl can reduce Parkinson’s-like movement disorders of people taking antipsychotic drugs.
  • Insomnia: Because of its potent sedating properties, people with insomnia can use Benadryl as an over the counter substitute for other sleeping pills.
  • Nausea: Studies have shown that Benadryl can to reduce nausea due to vertigo and motion sickness effectively.

Also Read: Does Metoprolol Work For Anxiety?


Understanding Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2017, from Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

Domino EF (1999). “History of modern psychopharmacology: a personal view with an emphasis on antidepressants”. Psychosom. Med. 61 (5): 591–8. doi:10.1097/00006842-199909000-00002. PMID 10511010.