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Medically Approved

Does Benadryl help with anxiety?

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UsesBenadryl for anxietyTreatmentsContacting a doctorUrgent careSummary
Benadryl is not a recommended anxiety treatment. The medication has limited benefits for anxiety and may even worsen symptoms.
Medically reviewed by Ericka Goodwin, MD, DFAPA
Written by Uxshely Carcamo
Updated on

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine medication. There is limited research on the use of diphenhydramine for anxiety. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve Benadryl for the treatment of anxiety and it may risk making your symptoms worse.

This article covers the recommended uses of Benadryl and appropriate treatments for anxiety.

Benadryl uses

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Benadryl is a common treatment for allergies and can help with symptoms like itching, sneezing, and a runny nose. The medication can also help with:

  • cough and cold symptoms 
  • motion sickness 
  • insomnia
  • controlling abnormal movements in early stage Parkinson’s disease. 

Benadryl for anxiety  

There are several reasons a person may mistakenly believe Benadryl can help with anxiety. Anyone experiencing anxiety symptoms should contact their doctor to ensure appropriate treatment.

Benadryl as a relaxant

Benadryl can make people feel drowsy. This may lead some to believe it can help with feelings of heightened anxiety.

But research suggests Benadryl is not as effective as a relaxant as other medications intended for anxiety.

Benadryl as a sleep aid

Research from 2015 suggests that Benadryl has limited benefits for sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also recommends against using diphenhydramine as a sleep aid. 

Side effects and risks

As Benadryl can cause side effects such as dizziness, headaches, and impaired ability to think, it may make your daily life more difficult and anxiety symptoms worse. You should consult your doctor before taking Benadryl for anxiety as it can also interact with other medicines you are taking. 

Overall, there is limited research on the use of Benadryl for anxiety. The available research suggests that Benadryl is not an effective treatment for anxiety and may risk making your symptoms worse. The FDA does not approve Benadryl as an anxiety treatment. 

Treatments for anxiety

There are several recommended treatment courses for anxiety. Medication, talking therapy, and some natural remedies may all help manage anxiety symptoms.


Several medications can help with anxiety.  You can work with your doctor to find the best medication option for you. Some medications you can take for anxiety include: 

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like venlafaxine (Pristiq)
  • tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) like imipramine (Tofranil) 
  • benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax)

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Talking Therapy 

Talk therapy can help manage and treat anxiety. Talk therapy can help you shift the way you think, feel, and behave. Therapy can also help you work through tough relationships or situations that are making you anxious. The National Institute of Mental Health suggests: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a common, and effective treatment for anxiety. CBT therapy aims to alter how you think, behave, and react to situations so that you can feel less fearful and anxious. 
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): ACT is a type of therapy in which you use tools like goal setting and mindfulness to manage discomfort and anxiety.  ACT is a newer therapy treatment option for anxiety. 

Therapy services like BetterhelpFindAPro, and Talkspace can connect you with a therapist. 

Natural remedies

There are also some natural remedies that can help with anxiety. But it is important to note these natural options are not a replacement for medical treatment. Natural options that may help with anxiety include

Contacting a medical professional

If you think you are experiencing anxiety symptoms, your doctor can help you find an appropriate treatment. Your doctor may carry out an initial mental health screening and refer you to mental health specialists. 

If you need urgent care 

If you are in crisis and need urgent care, do not hesitate to call 911 or go to an emergency room. If you are in emotional distress or contemplating suicide, you can call or text the Suicide or Crisis Lifeline at 988.


Benadryl is not recommended as a treatment for anxiety. There are many other effective treatment options including medications, therapy, and lifestyle measures.

If you are feeling anxious, your doctor can help create a tailored treatment plan.  With the right treatment and support, you can manage your anxiety symptoms and feel better. 

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