Should You Take Zyrtec for Treating Anxiety?

For a number of people around us, anxiety is something that has to be constantly dealt with. If you have anxiety disorders, you can neither fully get rid of them nor avoid them like other physical illnesses. It’s normal to be concerned about various activities, incidents, or events happening in our lives but it becomes a “problem” when the intensity and frequency get heightened to the level that affects our daily lives.

Usually, people take different types of drugs to treat anxiety. Out of these, SSRI antidepressants (like Sertraline, Fluoxetine), Benzodiazepines (Diazepam, Clonazepam, etc) are widely prescribed. Besides, other prescribed medications used that aren’t directly related to anxiety/depression are antihistamines and beta-blockers. They are used to decrease the activities in the brain providing temporary relief.

Studies say that a lot of people take only antihistamines or widely available sleeping pills like hydroxyzine, Cetirizine, etc when they feel anxious. What goes wrong is when people start consuming the less significant drugs believing it is working for them instead of sticking to the actual medications.

In this article, you will be able to gather all the necessary information you need to know whether you should take Zyrtec for anxiety or not and how they are related to anxiety.

Anxiety and Anxiety Disorder

Getting anxious, uneasy, and tensed about anything that’s going to happen or something you did is absolutely fine until it causes disruption in your regular chores. Anxiety is the normal response to let you know that your body and mind are under stress. It is mainly characterized by persistent and excessive worrying about a number of things.

anxiety-disorder

You can’t do anything normally, concentrating on your work or study seems incredibly difficult, you overthink, you get scared and the cycle repeats! This debilitating feeling makes you feel vulnerable. Most people would say worrying makes them function well, they can chalk out what to do and what not to instead of being restless or indecisive, but in fact, a person with serious anxiety issues will find it hard to carry out even the simplest daily activities.

Some of the anxiety disorders found among adults are social anxiety, phobias, panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, etc. Each of these can affect job performance, personal relationships, academic sides, and so on.

Anxiety and anxiety disorder might sound similar, but they are in fact not the same. While anxiety is normal and can happen to a person occasionally under any stressful and traumatic events, anxiety disorder is an illness that can worsen if left untreated. In anxiety disorders, people usually experience physical symptoms like sweating, palpitation, headaches, etc.

There are a number of medicines found to treat anxiety, both long-term and short-term. Since most antidepressants are not available over the counter, a physician’s prescription is required. Therefore, proper diagnosis of mental health is extremely significant otherwise your doctor can not recommend you effective treatment plan and medication. And remember that every drug comes with various side effects. Follow your doctor’s advice and don’t take whatever tranquilizer you wish to take.

Zyrtec: A Brand Name of Cetirizine

Zyrtec is the brand name given for Cetirizine. It belongs to the antihistamine group of medicines. They are commonly used to treat allergic reactions like sneezing, hives, itchy skin, redness of eyes, watery eyes, etc. Cetirizine belongs to the histamine antagonist category of drug that is used to relieve allergy symptoms. Pharmacologically, it comes from the second generation of H1 receptor antagonists, simply known as antihistamines.

How Does It Work on Our Body?

These drugs work by selective inhibition of the peripheral receptors for histamine, a chemical mediator released from white blood cells while the body’s immunity is exposed to an allergen or pathogen.

histamine-receptor

Histamine is released from mast cells and then attaches to other cells having receptors for histamine. This attachment causes them to be activated and the release of chemicals produces other effects associated with allergy (like sneezing). Zyrtec blocks these receptors and prevents activation of H1 containing cells by histamine.

How Zyrtec Is Related to Anxiety?

The most commonly prescribed drugs for anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, (SSRIs) since they directly act on the release of serotonin. On the other hand, Zyrtec being an antihistamine isn’t indicated to treat anxiety disorders. It has a noticeable relaxing effect and a significant quick response. The risks involved are mostly because of the drowsiness that comes after taking antihistamines.

Since antihistamines are noted to induce sedation in patients and it has a calming effect on the body, people believe it is foolproof to take these medicines as a temporary solution to their problems. Moreover, these are cost-effective over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and widely available in every pharmacy, hence people use them just to avoid the hassle of visiting hospitals.

But if you have a serious anxiety disorder that is more likely to disrupt the normal pursuits of your life, immediately consult with a psychiatrist because most psychological or emotional disorders tend to worsen with time if left untreated.

Therapeutic Indications

Zyrtec is commonly used for the treatment of allergic reactions. It gives quick and temporary relief from respiratory allergies (allergy to pollen, dust, etc) They are used to treat Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever) and Urticaria (hives) having symptoms like

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes along with redness
  • Itching in nose and throat 
  • Redness and itching on the skin of upper and lower limbs
  • Rhinorrhea

Other associated conditions are flu-like symptoms, pollen allergy, respiratory allergy.

Contraindication

Here is a list of health conditions for which Zyrtec should not be taken.

  • Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye)
  • Decreased kidney functions.
  • Renal impairment (like difficulty urinating)
  • Hypersensitivity to cetirizine or hydroxyzine.
  • Liver diseases.
  • Lactating mother, since it is excreted through breast milk to the baby.

Dosage

For adults and children over 6 years of age, 5-10 mg orally once a day and do not take more than 10 mg in 24 hours. Children below 6 years and adults over 60 years should consult with their doctors first.

zyrtec-for-anxiety

A pregnant woman may take Zyrtec in the recommended amount, while a lactating woman should not.

Adverse Effects

Physicians recommend any medication considering the greater efficacy and potential benefits for their patients than the side effects associated with the drug administration. A number of side effects have been reported over years of studies and clinical trials for taking Zyrtec. Most people do not show any severe adverse effects at all.

Some of the most common side effects of taking this medication are given below:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Other possible side effects requiring medical attention are:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Pounding heartbeat (raised heartbeat)
  • Vision problems
  • Weakness
  • Mild abdominal pain

Serious but rare side effects of zyrtec include hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions – rash, itching, trouble breathing, etc, seizures, and dizziness.

Does Zyrtec Help With Anxiety?

There is a link between decreased levels of serotonin in the brain and patients with anxiety or other mood disorders. Serotonin is the mood-regulating neurotransmitter in our body. Antihistamines block the H1 receptor, which is a receptor of the central nervous system.

Relevant studies have shown some antihistamines also block serotonin receptors. So serotonin stays in the blood giving it a temporary raise and provoking a state of sedation.

Being an antihistamine, Zyrtec is not usually prescribed as an anti-anxiety medicine because it isn’t directly related and indicated for treating episodes of anxiety. However, people rely on them since they serve the purpose of inducing sedation and resolves the symptoms arising due to anxiety (flushing, running nose, difficulty in breathing, etc). Hence these can be used to ease the problems associated with anxiety along with other anti-anxiety medications like clonazepam or diazepam.

Anti-anxiety drugs like SSRIs and Benzodiazepines have bad withdrawal symptoms and have very strong sedating effects. SSRI group of medicines are relatively nonaddicting but they take a long time to become potent for the body.

So they are prescribed for long-term treatment use under close supervision of medical professionals. ,7On the contrary, benzodiazepines are rapid-acting but have a number of unwanted impacts on the body including memory loss and depression and the risk of dependency is much higher than the other medicines.

On the other hand, antihistamines can be ideal for quick recovery of symptoms of periodic anxiety. Since they are nonaddictive with practically no withdrawal symptoms, they are suggested along with other anti-anxiety drugs, but not the only reliable choice of drug.

It is very important to have a proper evaluation of your mental health otherwise your condition won’t improve. Medications only are not enough, you will need counseling and necessary therapy for an impactful outcome.

Precautions 

Not all types of medications and food/drink should be consumed with zyrtec for anxiety issues due to its actions of a drug interaction.

  • Tell your doctor if you have any other disease in your kidney or liver problem.
  • Cough relieving syrups or oral tablets and muscle relaxants (such as cyclobenzaprine) can be relatively sedating. Inform the physician if you are taking these medicines. In this case, they will change the drug or modify the dosage to prevent any unpleasant outcome.
  • Cetirizine is very similar to other antihistamines like chlorpheniramine, levocetirizine, topical diphenhydramine cream/spray. Do not use these drugs while using cetirizine.
  • If you are pregnant, do not forget to talk to a health professional. It is acceptable to the body up to a certain limit but it is always better to talk to your doctor.
  • Avoid taking alcoholic drinks since they can add up to your drowsiness. Along with these, be careful while using sedatives and tranquilizers because they will increase sleepiness too. If you need to take other medicines having sedating effects, stop using those medicines for the time being after talking to your doctor.
  • Don’t go out and drive a vehicle by yourself since you will possibly feel sleepy, at least within a few hours after taking the medicine. It’s also better not to use any sensitive machinery that needs you to be alert and awake.
  • Try to reduce sugary foods since they can induce sleepiness too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are antihistamines effective for anxiety?

Antihistamines are usually prescribed to treat allergic reactions but they can be used to treat anxiety on a short-term basis owing to their calming effect on the brain. You feel less anxious and relaxed when you take any antihistamine.

How is anxiety related to seasonal allergies?

A study conducted to find the link between seasonal allergies and anxiety states that people with generalized anxiety disorders (GAD) experienced pollen allergies in their life more than perennial allergies (food, house dust, etc) Since stress can make allergies worse, it is necessary to know what allergies you have.

Who shouldn’t take zyrtec for anxiety?

Patients with liver and kidney diseases, lactating women, and Glaucoma should not take Zyrtec.

Is it possible to develop anxiety by taking zyrtec? 

Although unclear, studies suggested that among most antihistamines, taking cetirizine (zyrtec) may have a greater chance of causing anxiety and mood changes later in life. If you notice your symptoms worsen after taking this medicine, talk to your physician.

Is it okay to take antihistamines every day?

You may take antihistamines daily depending on the allergic symptoms your body has been showing. But it is always better to avoid overusing medications if there is no necessity and urgency.

Endnote

Experiencing anxiety in all aspects of life can be extremely miserable. This constant tension of any upcoming event or blunders made in the past seems irrelevant to others around you because everybody fails to understand what you are going through. But hey, there is nothing to be worried about. With proper medication, therapy, and professional help you can get a grip on your regular routine very easily.

Anxiety disorders might have been labeled as taboo in the past and wellness in terms of mental health might have been comprehensively stigmatized but people are now embracing positive changes. They are talking about mental health and its prospects in medical science have evolved and improved too. Whenever you think like you have been feeling easily irritable or irrationally worried about the tiniest things going on in your life, feel free to talk to health professionals.

Don’t consume unnecessary medicines or follow treatment plans designed for others because it varies from one person to another. Try to do yoga and meditation almost every day. Eat healthy foods. Make time for yourself and obviously don’t forget to love yourself.

Till then, happy reading!

Maisha Zarnaz

I am Maisha, currently studying for MBBS in Armed Forces Medical College, Dhaka. The advancements in medical science enthrals me a lot, hence I like to read medical blogs and articles and help people with whatever knowledge I have been able to acquire on healthy eating, lifestyle and skin care. I love watching TV series or baking when I'm free and music has always been my passion.

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