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Over-the-Counter antihistamines act as SSRI


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according to wikipedia articles and various articles from the net, two widely available antihistmines act as potent SSRI. Diphenhydramine (benadryl) and Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton). Diphenhydramine was the drug the chemists made prozac from and Chlorpheniramine led to the discovery of the first patented SSRI. some people have also used diphenhydramine is useful in relieving withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants.

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Way back when Visteril and Benadryl were first made they were often used for "nerves" and anxiety. Of course they also make you very tired. (most people)

Hell IM so old I can remember Benadryl  available only by prescription! LOL

I use them both (not at the same time obviously) on a short term basis if Im having a bad week with anxiety or insomnia.

CC~

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Ok,  You really got my interest up on this one, for sure.

I've read all the standard books on Prozac and had never seen anything on its derivation. The idea that a common OTC drug that is fairly safe might have AD properties is exciting.

Now for what I found.

The name that keeps popping up with a recent journal citation is Bruce Charlton.  He is a lecturer (non-professor) at the Univ. of Newcastle, UK. The citation is from the journal MEDICAL HYPOTHESIS of this year. 

Turns out that Medical Hypothesis is a "pay for page" journal.  In other words, all you have to do to get an article in there is pay for it.  Hardly a reputable peer reviewed scientific journal.  In fact the publisher emphasises that they do not force authors to change their manuscript to conform with referee's criticisms.

Charlton does not provide any citations in his footnotes supporting his claim of using anti-histamines for mental health other than citing himself twice. One of those is citing a letter he wrote to the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia in response to another article. Again, no scientific evidence and not peer reviewed.

according to wikipedia articles and various articles from the net, two widely available antihistmines act as potent SSRI. Diphenhydramine (benadryl) and Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).

- I can find no evidence that these drugs are SELECTIVE Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors.    They are mentioned in the scientific articles and wiki articles as Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, but not selective.  Charlton uses the acronym 'SSRI' in his article but places it in quotes.  The selective bit is what has made Prozac and the like so useful.  They don't have the huge range of side effects.

- "Potent":  I can find nothing to support the claim that they are potent, only that they have SRI properties. Further, just the fact that they have some SRI properties doesn't mean that they are even strong enough to have any noticeable effects or medically useful strengths.

A Pubmed search of  Chlorpheniramine + Depression found no citations going back to 1967, nearly 40 years.

A Pubmed search of Diphenhydramine + Depression found only one clearly related citation:

Hankoff, LD  1964, Sep., Dis Nerv Syst,  Diphenhydramine as an Anti-Depressant: A Negative Finding. (no abstract available).

[For historical perspective, remember that in 1964 the only drugs available were the Tricyclic Anti-depressants (TCA) like Thorazine and Stelazine]

There are numerous references to using these two drugs in combo with other psychotropics for treating sleep disorders and a few for panic disorder. Those seem rather obvious and straight forward:  They zonk you out.

There are also numerous articles about overdoses, toxicity and undesirable anticholinergic side effects like constipation, dry mouth, etc.    I can testify to those effects, being a severe allergy sufferer. Both drugs can cause agitiation and excitement in large doses as well.  Anyone taking them in large doses for extended periods would have to deal with those effects as well.

What a wonderful thing if Benadryl had MI uses.  Cheap and readily available.  It was introduced in 1946 (I saw the issue of Time that had an article about it, by coincidence last year). It was introduced nearly ten years before the first effective anti-depressants. If it had any real AD effects I would think some sharp doctor would have noticed sometime in the last 70 years.

- I don't have access to any more detailed chemistry books that might delve deeper into the pharmacology.  Likewise some ambitious soul might want to try searching Pubmed using different criteria.    It would be great if someone can find proven effectiveness and dosages.

A.M.

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FWIW- Back in 1987 when I was *first* depressed before I got on meds, before I knew what depression was (when I just thought I was going crazy), I stumbled upon plain ole Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), in the first aid kit at work. I took it for a cold and noticed within hours I was not.at.all. depressed ?!? Really.

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A.M.:

Very interesting, well-researched. Have one correction:

[For historical perspective, remember that in 1964 the only drugs available were the Tricyclic Anti-depressants (TCA) like Thorazine and Stelazine]

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Neither Thorazine nor Stelazine are TCAs. Thorazine is a phenothiazine; Stelazine is an antipsychotic. Both used as antipsychotics. (I'm of the vintage to have used TCAs. Unfortunately.)
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