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Posted by: meagainat40 ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 01:53PM

My husband has had trouble sleeping because of his crazy shift work over about 20 years. He started taking Benadryl to fall asleep at night about 4 years ago and now he is convinced he can't sleep without it. He goes to great lengths to get it too if it isn't readily available. I found a website today that says:

"Benadryl Addiction
Although Benadryl is not considered a drug of abuse, it is possible for a person to become addicted to it. Addiction to this sleep aid is often a psychological problem. People believe they cannot sleep without the medication, and will experience insomnia if they do not take it. If you think you have a problem with addiction to Benadryl, talk to your healthcare provider."

Has anyone out there had experience with this? It is causing a great deal of trouble in our marriage.

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Posted by: Itzpapalotl ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 02:06PM

You can build up a resistance to it. No joke. I suppose that yes, one could develop a mental addiction to it. Why is it causing marital issues? Even pregnant women can take Benadry.

I have been an insomniac since I was 10, and I have a lot of sleeping issues like nightmares/terrors, walking/talking in my sleep, RLS, and apnea, so I sympathize with his weird sleeping schedule. Maybe he could switch up what he is taking, like maybe sominex here and there, or even Tylenol PM as long as he has no liver issues.

If he starts taking Ambien or Lunesta, he might start doing "waking activities" in his sleep, FYI.

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Posted by: Heresy ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 02:07PM

more than a couple of days in a row because it is hard to sleep if I take them too many times. About a month ago my life went a little out of control and I needed the sleep desperately. I am habituated and am sure I'll have a hard time stopping.

I guess I don't see it as a big problem, however, especially considering how much better I feel with sleep. I'm on ambien rather than benadryl.

Why is it a problem in your marriage?

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Posted by: Doxi ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 02:21PM

If you have restless legs syndrome, Benadryl can actually make it worse in some cases. I had a few horrible nights until I figured out what it was that made my RLS so much worse in spite of being so sleepy!

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Posted by: Itzpapalotl ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 02:34PM

It sounds kinda weird, but my RLS became really bad after the Great Earwig Infestation of '07.

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Posted by: ldscam ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 02:28PM

My mom started giving me sleeping pills when I was sixteen (three years ago). I didn't take them every night, but just over the last couple of months she bought benadryl. First it was the blue pills and when those ran out she bought me pink pills (apparently those were the "exact same" but the pink pills were sold as allergy medicine and the blue pills are sold as sleeping pills, the side effect of the allergy medicine).

Anyway, I don't really know. What I do know is that I didn't take any last night and I was up past 4 am when I have to be up at 8 am. I have noticed that the pink pills, unlike the blue ones, give me a sort of high when I take them. I would relate it pretty in line with weed if you take a few of them.

I have never heard this about benadryl but it does not surprise me. I haven't been taking them nearly as long as you're husband but I can see now how it could cause a problem.

If you say benadryl is causing a great deal of trouble in your marriage then I think you are doing the right thing to start asking around! Talk to doctors, look on over the counter addiction websites, and talk to your husband. I'm sure you have alreay, but calmly express your concern and worry about what a sleeping pills is capable of doing to the both of you. If he is not capable of cutting back to stop taking them, not willing, or he goes to some sort of extreme as you say, get him to a doctor asap.

I'm sorry I don't really know how to help, but you two should not let this get in the way of anything. There are other sleep medications. There is a way to make things alright. Hope I helped. Keep us posted if you want. Best of wishes <3

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 02:41PM

I agree you need to take it only for a few nights, then switch it up with another med or take a break for a few nights, then repeat. Maybe try Melatonin, which is more "natural", but again, it only works for a few nights and then doesn't seem to help as much. If I take it for three nights in a row, then off for a week or two, it works better when I resume than if I take it continuously. Usually, the reason I can't sleep is stress and/or my brain has a hard time settling down and taking a break.

Benadryl is an anti-allergy med but can be used as a sleep aid, although not long term or on a consistent basis I don't think.

I just started using Benadryl as a sleep aid in July as Melatonin isn't effective long term and only provided a few unconscious hrs anyway. I ended up with side effects, unusual for me, that have caused me grief all summer. After a few wks of consistent use I became quite ill but it took a few more weeks for me to realize the Benadryl was causing it. I'd been trying to think back and see what the causes of my misery could be and I suddenly thought it could be side effects to this new med. Sure enough, my problems were listed as potential side effects, although not on the label or even in the pkg insert. I quit taking Benadryl right away but it has taken two weeks to start feeling relief from the side effects. Scary stuff. It has ruined my summer so far, with pain and nausea and malaise and generally feeling quite ill. I'd rather be sleepless for a month than suffer such unpleasant side effects! So, for me, a few hrs of assisted sleep here and there were NOT worth the cost, namely quite horrific and disabling and painful and scary side effects, that interfered with work and sleep and enjoyment of life.

I know that doesn't happen to most people who take it, but it highlights how cautious we should be about taking meds, even over-the-counter ones, which may not be as regulated, or safe, as we tend to think and that we should be quicker to consider that new symptoms or problems may be medication side effects (which all too often is the LAST thing we think of, as with me). What is scary about side effects is that it can take a long time to even realize the med could be the problem and some side effects don't necessarily clear up even with cessation of the med. That's what I'm finding - ongoing problems even after stopping Benadryl and being off it now for nearly two wks. The long lists of potential side effects for most substances should make us much more cautious than we tend to be.

I can relate to your husband feeling dependent on the Benadryl. I was taking one (or two) routinely, not even waiting to see if I needed it that night, as I got to just assuming that I did. I didn't find that it gave better sleep than Melatonin, it just got to be a habit to take it. With the symptoms it caused (severe leg pain among them) it actually ended up costing me many nights' sleep. I don't think it was the drug itself that caused dependence but the idea of needing it to get to sleep, and the anxiety about not sleeping that created a need that may not have really been there.

I too am analyzing possible reasons for why it would be hurting your marriage; maybe disputes about medication dependence? crabby guy from lack of sleep? etc?

Maybe he should consider discussing this with his GP, switching to another aid, like Melatonin or similar, testing to see if he needs a sleep aid at all (there are many other strategies that could be tried to enhance sleep) and also to see whether Benadryl is actually helping at all. A GP could help with all of that.

But yeah. I'm ticked with Benadryl. For a few hrs of so-so sleep, I've been in pain all summer. My theory is that it has to do with constricting blood vessels, which caused me a lot of leg and foot pain, and the more pain I had the more I took Benadryl to help me sleep, and so on, vicious cycle.

I took this opportunity to whine about my side effects with it, as I'm so ticked with Benadryl. I found out through this that in Canada at least, drug manufacturers are not required to list all potential side effects if their product is available without an Rx, which Benadryl is. I know it's a crap shoot when you're ingesting substances that are perhaps not entirely well controlled but I've never had side effects before and so didn't expect any this time. I don't have allergies so have never taken allergy meds before and don't usually take too much for colds/flu as I prefer to just let things work themselves out. So, I was disappointed, and alarmed even, at my unexpected reaction to Benadryl. I have "proved" that it was the culprit as the leg pain did gradually abate right after I stopped taking the Benadryl. Now I use a lot of different measures to get drowsy before bedtime and hopefully fall asleep without too much trouble. Again, I'd rather be awake forever than suffer more medication side effects. Yow.

As for dependence, either mental or physical, that's a tough issue and an MD could be your best friend on that one.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/13/2011 02:49PM by Nightingale.

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Posted by: beansandbrews ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 02:56PM

fellow leg pain sufferer. Am finding sublingual B-12 daily helps. Turns out that the prilosec I am taking blocks liver enzymes. You need those to break down the drugs. And also to absorb B-12. Thank FSM for goggle.
My leg pain usually happens when I need to sleep. Also magniesum at night helps the pain.

I have had leg pain for years at night.
I also just quit the prilosec. Not good. So slowly tapping out whats inside over a few weeks.

These meds are powerful and have different side effects for each person who takes them. You have to keep trying to find what your body can handle.

I tried Ambien. Worked great. Cheap. But built tolerance way too fast or it's just to short acting.

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Posted by: beansandbrews ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 02:47PM

fellow insomniac here. I fought using anything to sleep for years. But I hit that wall at 50. Doc said that not sleeping is way worse on your health than most drugs. He was right. I have tried many things. Some too harsh. Benedryl doesn't help. My marriage was suffering due to no sleep.

I too try to vary what I take since the part of the brain responsible for sleep gets used to one med quick.

The best one my doc found is Lunesta. It's expensive but he writes for double what I need and I cut them in half. The drug company has a program to help with co pay. So with my insurance I pay $0.

If your hubby can sleep with Bendryl what's the problem. It is the same ingredient in Tylenol pM without the Tylenol.

If you have never experienced chronic insomnia it's hard to be understanding.

There is a difference between dependancy and addiction.

Talk to a professional about the difference and it may help to alleviate fears or decide if there is something to fear.

I am dependant on caffiene. But would I steal of lie to get

But for me SLEEP is life. Try going 3 years without more than a few hours solid.

Lots of good advice here.

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Posted by: Stray Mutt ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 02:47PM

Or some vodka.

But, yeah, there have been times I used Benadryl to knock me out -- particularly if it was one of those nights my brain would't turn off. Damn brain.

I know that if I were ever to get into recreational drug use, I'd be a big fan of downers. So I'm careful about my self-medication.

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Posted by: Itzpapalotl ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 03:07PM

lol..but Valerian root stinks, just to warn you. :D One of my friends uses melanin, but it's not good for people who have depression issues.

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Posted by: Carol Y. ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 03:47PM

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Posted by: Itzpapalotl ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 03:50PM

LOL..I just had a very wrong and hilarious visual of someone trying to take melanin to sleep..

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/13/2011 03:50PM by Itzpapalotl.

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Posted by: hello ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 06:06PM

Tryptophan works better than melatonin, with fewer side effects. Makes serotonin by natural pathways. Serotonin=sleepy zzz

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 03:06PM

I suffer from significant allergies, and for many years took allergy medication 24/7 year round. I would take Allegra D during the daytime and Benadryl D at night. Benadryl is still one of the most effective allergy medications, and the fact that it doubles as a sleep aid is a bonus.

I have no reason to believe that Benadryl is physically addictive nor damaging (I've had liver studies done for other reasons with no ill effects noted.) I also believe that accusing the drug of fostering psychological dependence is overblown. It's easy to use and effective, so for that reason people get into the habit of using it nightly. But I found that I could just as easily stop using the drug when I wanted to.

I wanted to lessen my use of allergy drugs so now I just use both of them on an as-needed basis. One thing that I did begin to note with Benadryl is that (like other sleep aids) it can leave a luggy feeling the next morning. It also tends to have a (for lack of a better word) psychadelic effect on dreams that is not always desirable.

I would urge your husband to try doing without it on an experimental basis (perhaps when he's off of work for a day or two.) I've gotten to the point where I like sleeping better without it, but OTOH I would never hesitate to use it if needed. I wouldn't worry overly if your husband continues to use it regularly. Just make sure that his M.D. knows about it and that he isn't over-consuming alcoholic beverages.

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Posted by: Suckafoo ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 03:06PM

A few times a week I am up from about 1:00-4:00 am bored as heck with nothing to do, tossing turning. Alarm goes off at 5:15 and then by 4:00pm I am exhausted. If I take Benedryl it will knock me into the middle of next week, affecting me all the next day so I only take it if I am desperate to sleep. I am not sure the cause but I agree that being without sleep is miserable for the person dealing with it. I would try not to make a person feel guilty if they really need sleep and must take something for it. Sometimes if I take a handful of almonds or some other protein when I wake up at a weird hour, it actually helps get me back to sleep. Maybe my stomach gets too empty. I'm not sure why it helps.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/13/2011 03:09PM by suckafoo.

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Posted by: hello ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 06:09PM

True, suckafoo. I like a few tbs milk with a scoop of Gold Standard whey protein, maybe a little Ovaltine for flavor. This will often help me get to sleep in the wee hours.

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Posted by: ginger ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 03:07PM

I have used Unisom tablets off and on over the last few years. I used it with my pregnancy (doctor approved) because it helped with the nausea too. It helps when I really need the sleep. I suffer from insomnia from time to time. I never had that problem until I had kids.

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Posted by: Pharmacist ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 03:35PM

There is dependence and addiction, two entirely different things. The problem with the morg is that they have invented pornography "addiction" when it is not. They throw this term around to make innocuous substances sound like crack or heroin for the fear factor.

diphenhydramine, which is generic Benadryl is not addictive because it does not cause changes in brain receptors, as do opiates and other drugs. They throw all substances in one bucket, making coffee=heroin. That's not how it works.

Dependence is when there is a psychological need for a substance or stimulus to relieve anxiety or help with sleep. There is very little physiological involvement, and when brain changes occur, they are caused by the anxiety which triggers them, somewhat like cravings.

Here's a good way of dealing with insomnia. First, stop increasing the stress about it. It's causing a vicious cycle.

Second, the adrenal glands (on top of the kidneys) produce cortisol, which can increase with stress. Excess cortisol is part of the "fight or flight" response, releasing epinephrine (adrenalin) into the blood stream. The response was developed in humans in order for us to get out of the way of rampaging mastodons. It worked. The problem is, the same response is triggered by modern-day stress like traffic, work, responsibilities, finances, etc... This cortisol/adrenalin imbalance can lead to insomnia. It can also make it difficult to lose weight.

Third, other human hormones can re-balance this cycle; DHEA, Pregnenolone (men and women make this) and supplements such as licorice root can help with sleep. These are all available at health food stores or homeopathic pharmacies. What is very, very, very important is keeping blood sugar levels steady.

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Posted by: 3X ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 09:58PM

"diphenhydramine, which is generic Benadryl is not addictive because it does not cause changes in brain receptors, as do opiates and other drugs."

I use generic diphenhydramine for occasional sleeplessness. Done it for about a decade.

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Posted by: Pharmacist ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 04:09PM

Reference: "The Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology," by Cooper et al.

Please stop throwing the word "addiction" around. It is rarely accurate. I've read on this board where kids point out a coffee maker or a Starbucks and use the term "addict" because that is what they've been taught by adults with an agenda or don't understand what it means.

For people who have headaches following spinal procedures, intravenous caffeine is one of the most tried and true cures for decades.

The most dangerous ingredients in over the counter sleep aids is acetaminophen, which is one of the top causes of liver/kidney failure in the country. And by the way, the antidote for acetaminophen toxicity is on backorder. I have never heard of a diphenhydramine overdose which led to death.

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Posted by: Deco ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 06:21PM

I think one could make a significant argument that the AA faith and the recovery industry cartel has marketed the faulty 'disease' maoel of addiction, as was pointed out in Stanton Peeles book 'The diseasing of America'

Also for some reason, this faith and industry seems to feel that the ONLY cure for this concocted 'disease' is conversion to heavy duty fundamentalist religion. This is truly sad since extremely effective methods, such as the Sinclair Method in conjunction with the drug Naltrexone has a 78% verifiable efficacy rate, as compared to AA that has less than a 5% success rate according to their own numbers.

It is interesting that you point out that there is a significant difference between dependence and addiction. The DSM IV does not even mention the word 'alcoholism' nor 'alcoholics anonymous' yet it remains the foundation of a 20 billion dollar a year industry in the US, with well over 90% of rehabs using 12 methodolgy and theology while bilking health insurance carriers for the money.

The misinformation and disinformation promoted by the AA faith and the recovery industry cartel as medical fact is neither medical nor fact.

The recovery system in the US is the worst healthcare disaster in the history of modern medicine. It is so bad that late night comedians actually use the word 'rehab' as a punchline. I am afraid that it will actually take Lyndsay Lohan running someone over before society wakes to the fact that this is not working.

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Posted by: wine country girl ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 06:15PM

This recommendation comes from a person who relied heavily on Exedrin P.M. (active ingredient for both: Diphenhydramine) through 15 years of marriage. Nothing works better or is more natural than exercise. (and a bed partner that doesn't rattle the roof when he snores)

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Posted by: Pharmacist ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 06:36PM

Thank you Deco and WCG -you both brought up great points. Medicine treats anxiety as disease (and everything else) but when the body has balance (exercise, nutrition, relaxation) we don't need to "treat" the major symptom.

AA seems so focused on alcoholism and their agenda that they don't address WHY people crave alcohol. And it's a billion dollar industry with a poor success rate.

The thing about exercise, not only is is great for the dogs who require it, but it's good for people, too. I've found that not having any caffeine in the afternoon, getting outside for a bit every day and acknowledging that I have to find healthy ways of dealing with stress is working. I hate, really hate waking up at 5 am, already worried about the day and I just want a couple of more hours of sleep. Exercise helps that a lot.

I remember the best sleep I ever had was being exhausted after swimming and playing in a lake all day during the summer -and that was at the age where I wanted to stay up! The mastodons are still charging at as adults, though, wearing down our adrenal glands. They just happen to be the ones having road rage on So. Cal highways.

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Posted by: axeldc ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 06:24PM

Benadryl is the same active ingredient as many sleeping pills. I've seen sleeping pills that were merely 2x the dosage of Benadryl's diphenhydramine. I've taken it on occasion both to sleep and to combat severe allergies.

I do notice that if I use it fairly often, it's soporific effects are much weaker. Therefore, it's not a good idea to use it for chronic insomnia. I also notice that I don't get much REM sleep on it, which is more crucial than merely logging hours in bed.

Better to go for 1 mg of melatonin. It's more natural and encourages REM sleep. It can cause some pretty funky dreams, so I take much less than the 3 mg pills normally offered. He will be more refreshed.

If he has severe insomnia, go get Ambien or some prescription. Benadryl is just a band aid, and not the best one at that.

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Posted by: intellectualfeminist ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 06:58PM

Wow. I couldn't believe it when I saw this topic! I used to take Benadryl for allergies, then realized it was helping me to sleep as well. I had insomnia (and started taking it when I was going through a divorce with tons of stress). I kept taking because I saw it as the only way I could get to sleep. It's taken years for me to wean myself away from it. Exercise has been a big help, also eliminating some of the huge stresses that plagued me for so long (goodbye Mormonism) have made a difference.

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Posted by: Doesn't matter ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 07:50PM

Benadryl is not addictive, nor can you develop a tolerance to it. Antihistamines can help you sleep, but usually only with mild cases of insomnia. If you take it for a few nights and notice it's not working as well, that is NOT because you've developed a tolerance, but because antihistamines are not a reliable sleep aid. Sometimes it will fail. Sometimes it's because the standard dosage for allergies, 25 mg, is not enough to put many people to sleep. For insomnia, 50 mg works better. I regularly take 100 mg and get better results. If I'm upset, though, even that much won't do the trick.

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Posted by: 3X ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 10:10PM

I find that 25 mg is the right dosage for me: it works most of the time, and if it doesn't, a greater dosage is of no help - in fact it produces a "drugged-out" feeling in the morning that I loathe.

Also, timing is critical for me: I need eyes-closed by 11:30 - and diphenhydramine should be ingested at 10:30 or so if needed.

The medication doesn't work at all for my son: he has good results with melatonin (which doesn't work for me.)

Insomnia is a bloody curse.

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Posted by: meagainat40 ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 10:47PM

Thanks for all of your responses. I live overseas so I wasn't awake to respond to any questions until now:) All of the information was very helpful and insightful.

To answer one question: I should have been more clear on one main wasn't the actual Benadryl use that was causing marriage problems, but the lying/sneaking to take it. That is a whole other issue for another day. I assumed if you are willing to lie/sneak (when you know that lying is a big issue in your marriage) about taking Benadryl that it must be addictive in some way. I can see that on this forum using the word addiction causes a lot of controversy. He is convinced that sleep will not come without taking it. Call it what you want...whatever word works for you :D

Thanks for all of the advice on sleeping aids. He has mentioned that he isn't reaching the REM phase while taking Benadryl so maybe I can use some of your recommendations on other sleep aids to help him. I thought the Benadryl was contributing to him acting kind of DUH(for lack of a better descriptive) all of the I really think that it is contributing.

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Posted by: voweaver ( )
Date: August 13, 2011 10:59PM

If he has problems sleeping when not taking Benedryl, he could have ALLERGIES.

You can't sleep if you can't BREATHE.

For others: if Ambien seems to wear off too soon, ask your doctor for a prescription for Ambien CR.

If Benedryl is giving you more of a high than a sleepy feeling, check the package. You might have a box of Benedryl-D, which includes a decongestant. Decongestants=buzz, antihistamines=sleep.

Better living through modern chemistry!


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Posted by: cl2 (not logged in) ( )
Date: August 14, 2011 12:43AM

but I only take 1/4 a dose as it does cause my RLS to be worse.

I felt the same way on trazodone though--In the worst years, I couldn't sleep at all and the psychiatrist gave me trazodone. When my prescription didn't come in the mail on time, I was without it for 5 nights and I couldn't sleep at all. I knew it wasn't the lack of trazodone, but my anxiety over not having any of it. Everyone I know who takes/took trazodone eventually has extremely wild colorful dreams. I quit trazodone because of the dreams.

But Benadryl has been great for me and my son. AND it helps with my migraines (they use it in ERs for migraines). If I take 800 mg of ibuprofen and 1/2 dose of benadryl, I can beat a migraine most of the time.

I did take note that trazodone worked better for me in smaller doses--as does benadryl.

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Posted by: cl2 (not logged in) ( )
Date: August 14, 2011 12:45AM

that the reason your husband feels more anxiety over taking it is because he feels he has to hide it from you. If you don't check up on him about it, maybe the anxiety will die down.

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