Dilantin for Dysphoria

Dilantin for Dysphoria

Julian Whitaker, MD

Everybody’s stressed out about stress these days. It’s this nebulous, negative force that makes us anxious and depressed, impairs our concentration, and damages our health—or so we’re led to believe.

This commonly accepted notion is way off base. As originally defined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, stress is “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” In other words, stress is simply part of life, and oftentimes, it’s decidedly good.

Let’s say you want to get in shape, so you start an exercise program, walking a mile every day. Or you want a garden in your backyard, so you buy seedlings, till the soil, and work in the dirt for weeks on end. Or you have a job or work of any nature. Compared to sitting on your couch, all of these activities require physical and mental exertion—they’re stressful!

Yet, the only thing more “stressful” than a job, exercise, and chores is their absence. People with no activities or responsibilities (which are by definition stressors) are often, like the guy who retired and died of boredom, miserably unhappy.

What is generally thought of as stress is actually dysphoria, “an emotional state marked by anxiety, depression, and restlessness.” And dysphoria certainly is a problem, which is why I want to tell you about the most effective therapy for this condition I’ve seen in all my years of practicing medicine.

Dysphoria, Not Stress

Even if you’re not familiar with the word “dysphoria,” you’ve experienced it. It’s feelings of disquiet and dissatisfaction, worry and anxiety, fidgeting and restlessness, and/or unhappiness and depression. When we suffer with dysphoria, we often look for causes in our external environment—hence the popularity of blaming this uneasiness on the stresses of daily life.

In my opinion, this is a big mistake. Yes, some life events are truly tragic: the death of a family member, the loss of a job, financial downturns, accidents, illness, and injury. However, most of us live the majority of our lives between such calamities. In general, dysphoria comes from the inside rather than being induced by outside stress.

So, what can you do about it? Every physician sees patients who are suffering with various states of dysphoria, and they usually treat them with powerful, dangerous prescription drugs such as Prozac, Wellbutrin, and Xanax. At Whitaker Wellness, however, we use a far safer and more effective treatment for handling this very common condition.

Dilantin Helped Jack

The most successful therapy I’ve ever come across for alleviating anxiety, restlessness, depression, and other symptoms of dysphoria is—hold on to your seats—a prescription drug. It’s Dilantin, a medication prescribed mainly for epilepsy that does far more than treat seizures.

Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Jack Dreyfus, one of America’s top financiers, suffered with severe depression and anxiety. For years, he saw a psychiatrist five days a week for psychotherapy. Jack wondered if his symptoms could have something to do with the electrical activity in his body. When he asked his physician about this, he was told about Dilantin, a medication used since the 1930s to calm the electrical explosions in the brains of patients with seizure disorders. Jack asked if he could give this drug a try. And, incredibly, his doctor said yes.

He started taking low doses of Dilantin. When his next psychiatrist’s appointment came up, he begged off for lack of time. His next appointment—and the next—he did the same thing. That’s when he realized that Dilantin was working. All his symptoms of dysphoria were gone!

Smoothes Out the Static

Dilantin works like fine-tuning the dial on a radio. If the station is not precisely tuned in, there’s a lot of static that interferes with the music. Give it a little adjustment, the music comes through, the sound is soothing, and everybody’s happy.

People with dysphoria have a lot of “static” in their brains, which contributes to emotional upset, anxiety, agitation, fear, anger, and other signs of dysphoria. Just as Dilantin stabilizes excessive electrical activity in order to control seizures, it normalizes the electrical cycling that underlies dysphoria. When Dilantin eliminates static, the dysphoria goes away. It’s that simple.

Jack began looking into Dilantin and found a wealth of material that had been published in worldwide scientific journals about this drug’s effectiveness in treating a wide range of problems. He tried to convince the FDA that the indications for Dilantin should be expanded to include seizure control and amelioration of dysphoric conditions—straightforward, to the point, and accurate.

To this end, Jack Dreyfus spent $100 million of his own money and published several books, including one with more than 3,000 scientific references on Dilantin. Although he never succeeded in his quest to get the FDA to officially broaden Dilantin’s approved uses, a few doctors took notice.

25 Years of Clinical Use

I was one of them. My experience with Dilantin dates back more than 25 years. When patients at the Whitaker Wellness Institute complain of dysphoria—and you’d be surprised at how many do—we ask them to do a one-hour test. They sit down and write how they feel and what their concerns are on a plain sheet of paper. They put the paper away, take 100 mg of Dilantin, and do whatever they want for about an hour. Then, they take another sheet of paper and again write how they feel and what they’re concerned about.

This test is extremely telling. If I were to ask a patient how he felt after that hour, he’d likely say, “Okay,” or “About the same.” However, the differences in the two written tests are often dramatic. That’s because there’s no overt mood alteration with Dilantin, no spectacular highs or lows. All this drug does is normalize the brain’s electrical activity, which just makes people feel, in Jack Dreyfus’ words, “all right.” After his very first day on Dilantin, he reported, “For the first time in my life I realized how good you feel when you feel ‘all right.’”

Thousands of patients over the years have benefited from this inexpensive medication. Dilantin has helped kids with ADHD get back on track. I’ve seen it eliminate behaviors associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder and tics and verbal outbursts of Tourette syndrome. We’ve also used it to successfully treat individuals with eating disorders, temper tantrums, and near-paralyzing lethargy.

However, our most common use is for relief of dysphoria. Dilantin helps people better deal with the anxiety, anger, restlessness, sadness, and other emotional swings caused by the ups and downs of everyday life. After starting on Dilantin, patients tell us they are far more capable of handling difficult coworkers, overburdened schedules, and other work-related “stress,” as well as problems that crop up at home and in personal relationships. The “stress” hasn’t changed, but the negative overreaction is blunted.

My Personal Experience

I take Dilantin myself when I feel out of sorts, usually with what Jack Dreyfus called “worry gnats.” My wife Connie carries it in her purse, and she seems to know when I need it. I confess there’s one aspect of Dilantin I don’t understand. When I take it, Connie becomes a much nicer person.

There’s an old Chinese proverb, “That the birds of worry and care fly above your head, this you cannot change. But that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.” Dilantin can help chase those birds away.


  • To order Jack Dreyfus’ book The Story of a Remarkable Medicine, call Whitaker Wellness at (800) 810-6655.
  • If you’re interested in trying Dilantin, discuss it with your physician and show him Dreyfus’ book or direct him to the website. If he isn’t open to this, consider becoming a patient at Whitaker Wellness. To learn more, call (866) 944-8253.


  • Dreyfus R. The Story of a Remarkable Medicine. Lantern Books, New York, NY, 2003.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here.

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