Diazepam (Valium) is classified as a benzodiazepine. It is commonly used in the treatment of anxiety disorders including generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and panic disorders. It is also used in medically-assisted detox from alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as delirium tremens. Diazepam is also used for muscle spasms and may also be used along with other drugs to treat people with seizures.
Diazepam is taken orally with or without food. It is available in pills, liquid, and concentrated forms. The dosage is dependent on a person’s weight, age, medical condition, and response to treatment. Like other benzodiazepines, diazepam works by increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps to increase calm and decrease levels of anxiety. It is intended to be used along with other forms of therapy and not considered as an exclusive treatment.
The common side effects of diazepam include drowsiness, ataxia (clumsiness), muscle weakness, and fatigue. There are other side effects of diazepam that are less common, but do occur in some individuals. These can include:
A person experiencing any of these symptoms is urged to speak with a health care professional.
Although diazepam is considered safe, there are some people that will have an adverse reaction to the drug. Anyone experiencing any of the following symptoms is urged to call their doctor or seek medical attention immediately:
When used with certain medications or substances, the risk for serious complications such as breathing problems, severe sedation, and coma can occur. If not taken as intended, diazepam can be life-threatening. Before taking diazepam, it is important to discuss with your health care provider about any other prescription medication, herbal substances, or illicit drugs you use. Using the following while take diazepam poses risk for more serious problems:
Drinking alcohol while taking diazepam can also increase some side effects and pose serious health risks and other complications.
Abuse and dependence of prescription drugs like diazepam have been reported. Individuals with a tendency towards addiction or substance abuse are at an increased risk of developing a dependency on diazepam. Once a person has become physically dependent on diazepam, they can feel withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using the drug. These symptoms are typically similar to withdrawal from other benzodiazepines and alcohol. They can include:
Severe cases of diazepam withdrawal will induce more serious withdrawal symptoms including hallucinations, numbing of the extremities, and hypersensitivity to light, noise, and physical contact. Seizures can also occur in people who have been taking large doses over an extended period.
Diazepam used during pregnancy has shown to produce developmental abnormalities and other medical problems to the developing foetus. Babies born to mothers who used diazepam in late pregnancy have shown to have breathing problems, difficulties feeding, and hypothermia. Postnatal babies have also shown increased risk for withdrawal from diazepam. Diazepam should not be used by breastfeeding mothers.
Diazepam, PubMed Health
Diazepam Side Effects, Drugs.com