Hydroxyzine For Anxiety: How It Works, Dosage, and Side Effects!

hydroxyzine for anxiety

We hear about cancer and heart diseases all the time, but do you know that mental illness is as serious as any health problems? According to WHO( World Health Organization), “ One in four people in the world is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.” Currently, about 450 million people in the world are suffering from mental disorders and related conditions that are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability. 

You’ll be surprised to know that only in the United States, over 40 million adults age 18 and older are suffering from anxiety disorders! And during this pandemic time, mental illness has become a global issue. So whether you’re facing some anxiety disorder or someone close to you is suffering from mental health problems, don’t take it lightly. You have to consult a doctor and take proper medication.

Globally, Hydroxyzine is used as a sedative to treat anxiety and depression. Sometimes it is also used together with other medications that are given during and after general anesthesia. In this article, you’ll find all the basic information of Hydroxyzine such as how it helped in curing depression and anxiety, dosage, precautions, and how to store this medication. 

What is Hydroxyzine?

hydroxyzine for anxiety

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Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine which is similar to the over-the-counter (OTC) medications like Benadryl and Zyrtec that are widely used to treat allergies and colds such as the runny nose and watery eyes. Hydroxyzine has some unique characteristics that make it perfect for the treatment of anxiety. It mainly works by preventing the effects of a substance called histamine, which is produced by the body.

This medicine is also used to produce sleep before surgery and relieve the symptoms of an allergic reaction (e.g., hives, itching skin) caused by chronic urticaria, and atopic and contact dermatoses).

Hydroxyzine usually comes in two versions: Hydroxyzine hydrochloride (Atarax) and hydroxyzine pamoate (Vistaril). Both are generally prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, but it is only available with a doctor’s prescription.

This Medicine is available in the three dosage forms:

  • Capsule
  • Tablet
  • Syrup

What Is Hydroxyzine Used For?

hydroxyzine for anxiety

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Apart from anxiety, it is also used to treat many different types of anxiety disorders; it is used most often for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Pruritus
  • Sedation
  • Urticaria
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Allergic Urticaria
  • Physical Urticaria

Symptoms of Anxiety:

hydroxyzine for anxiety

Source: verywellmind.com

Below are some commonly seen symptoms of anxiety:

  • Feeling nervous
  • Feeling fearful
  • Excessive worrying
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

How Does Hydroxyzine Work For Anxiety?

hydroxyzine for anxiety

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Researchers don’t know the whole process of how hydroxyzine works in our body, but they do agree on this that it basically changes the effects of 2 chemicals in our bodies: histamine and serotonin.

When hydroxyzine blocks the effects of histamine in our body, then we start feeling sleepy. A similar thing might happen with you after taking Benadryl or Nyquil. Whereas Serotonin is a chemical that affects our mood and Hydroxyzine has a unique effect on serotonin, that’s why it’s the only antihistamine used in the treatment of anxiety.

Dosing of Hydroxyzine

hydroxyzine for anxiety

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When it comes to the dose of this medication, then it is highly advised to follow your doctor’s orders or the directions written on the label. The below table includes only the average doses for adults and children. If your medicine dose is different, don’t change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The effect of the medicine may be different for each person. It depends on the number of doses you take each day and the time allowed between doses. Also, it depends on the duration of time for which you’re taking medicine according to your medical problem.

To help control anxiety and tension:

  • Adults—50 to 100 milligrams (mg) 4 times a day.
  • Children 6 years of age and older—50 to 100 mg per day, divided in small doses.
  • Children younger than 6 years of age—50 mg per day, divided in small doses.

To relieve the symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Adults—50 to 100 milligrams (mg) 4 times a day.
  • Children 6 years of age and older—50 to 100 mg per day, divided in small doses.
  • Children younger than 6 years of age—50 mg per day, divided in small doses.

For controlling anxiety and produce sleep before surgery:

  • Adults—50 to 100 milligrams (mg) a day.
  • Children—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The dose is usually 0.6 milligram (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day.

NOTE: Always take hydroxyzine as per your doctor’s instructions. The above doses may differ from person to person. 

How Long Does it Take for Hydroxyzine to Start Working?

hydroxyzine for anxiety

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Unlike other medicines, Hydroxyzine starts working very quickly. Within 30 minutes, a person can start feeling the effect, and in 2 hours maximum effect can be seen. Although it is a great thing but also keep in mind that it has some side effects that can be seen relatively quickly as well.

What are the Common Side Effects of Hydroxyzine?

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Now let’s see the shady Side of hydroxyzine. The hydroxyzine side effects are generally mild that includes:

  • Dizziness
  • Sedation (more than the other meds used for anxiety)
  • Nausea 
  • Dry mouth

The first two side effects are due to the medication affecting histamine levels, which simply means that they’re unavoidable. So before taking this medicine, you have to be prepared for these two things. 

Whereas in older adults feel side effects such as drowsiness and confusion. It may also include:

  • drowsiness;
  • headache;
  • dry mouth; or
  • skin rash.

Immediately stop using hydroxyzine and call your doctor, if you have: 

  • fast or pounding heartbeats;
  • headache with chest pain;
  • severe dizziness, fainting; or
  • a seizure (convulsions).

This means you should never drive or operate any heavy machinery after taking the hydroxyzine. Also, try to avoid anything that makes you dizzy or sleepy such as alcohol or any other medicine with the same side effects. If you feel any other side effects, immediately inform your doctor. 

When Not to Take Hydroxyzine?

hydroxyzine for anxiety

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You should never take hydroxyzine if you are allergic to it, or if:

  • You have long QT syndrome;
  • You are allergic to cetirizine (Zyrtec) or levocetirizine (Xyzal); or
  • You are in the first trimester of pregnancy.

When you’re consulting your doctor, tell him if you have:

  • blockage in your digestive tract (stomach or intestines);
  • bladder obstruction or other urination problems;
  • glaucoma;
  • heart disease, slow heartbeats;
  • personal or family history of long QT syndrome;
  • an electrolyte imbalance (such as high or low levels of potassium in your blood);
  • if you have recently had a heart attack.

Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About Major Depressive Disorder

How to Store Hydroxyzine?

hydroxyzine for anxiety

Source: bestdrug.org

  • Store the medicine at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. 
  • If you’re taking a liquid form of the medicine, do not freeze it. 
  • Keep all your medications away from children and pets.
  • Properly discard outdated medicine. Never pour them in a drain or flush them unless you’re given instructions to do so. In the state of confusion, ask your healthcare about how to dispose of your medicines. 

The Bottom Line

hydroxyzine for anxiety

Source: drugs.com

Hydroxyzine not only reduces activity in the central nervous system, but it also acts as an antihistamine that reduces the effects of the natural chemical “histamine” in the human body. Sometimes, it is also used to treat allergic skin reactions such as hives or contact dermatitis.

Symptoms like drowsiness, severe sleepiness, and vomiting can be seen if a person takes an overdose of this medication. That’s why it is very important to take this medication as per the directions of your doctor. Contact your doctor if you’re feeling any of the symptoms, as mentioned earlier. 

For more mental health blogs like How to Release Anger and Stress, click on the link and keep coming to Healthclubfinder for more health guidance.