Benadryl (generic name diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine mainly used to treat symptoms associated with allergies and the common cold. Some health professionals will also recommend the use of Benadryl to suppress coughs, treat motion sickness, help people sleep, and treat mild forms of Parkinson’s disease.
Benadryl is not officially indicated or approved to treat anxiety disorders, including performance issues like stage fright. Benadryl can have a sedating effect and so there might be doctors out there who will recommend it to patients with anxiety issues because the sedating effect might help them to relax. But the fact that Benadryl has a sedating effect can be a concern – some people who take Benadryl can feel tired or woozy, and so it can interfere with their functioning in certain ways, such as being able to safely drive a car. Benadryl also can’t treat the root of the problem with anxiety. While anxiety can affect our bodies – leaving us feeling sweaty, shaky, with a rapid heartbeat and more – anxiety is produced in the brain. Benadryl is not a medication that will address the chemical reactions in the brain that cause the anxiety – psychotropic medications are needed for that. So while some doctors may recommend Benadryl for certain anxiety issues, FX recommends that you focus treatment on therapy and psychotropic medications (if medication is needed) when it comes to anxiety issues.
Keep in mind that even if a doctor has recommended that someone take Benadryl to help them relax if they are prone to anxiety, nothing is being “cured.” The Benadryl is addressing a symptom, not removing the underlying problem. The same is true for allergies – the Benadryl addresses and relieves symptoms for the person taking it, it does not cure then of allergies so they will become allergy-free. Anxiety disorders are usually not seen as something to be cured, but more managed – a person may never be entirely rid of the anxiety disorder but can use various treatments to ease the symptoms and help manage the problem so it does not interfere in everyday life.
If you suffer from stage fright, FX recommends the following:
· Do not take Benadryl, or any other medication, without consulting with your doctor.
· If stage fright is an issue, consider meeting with a therapist. There are many different kinds of therapies that can successfully treat anxiety issues such as stage fright. Therapists who practice cognitive-behavioral therapy address the behavioral reactions to certain situations; hypnotherapists help people learn to relax and calm themselves in situations that would normally invoke lots of anxiety; and psychodynamic practitioners who look at the underlying issues that have contributed to the stage fright and address those underlying factors.
· Meet with a psychiatrist to find out if you would benefit from any kind of anti-anxiety medications.
· If this is a literal stage fright issue in terms of being able to act in front of people up on the stage, speak with an acting coach about how to deal with this anxiety.