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How Does Valium Help With Anxiety Disorders?

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See a medical provider online to learn how to address anxiety symptoms, including medications like Valium. Receive expert guidance and an online prescription if required.
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
Reviewer:

Dr. Bradley Noon

MD
Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs. Read more

Highlights

  • Valium belongs to the class of medications called benzodiazepines. It is used to help manage anxiety disorders as it induces a calming effect on the brain and nerves.
  • Valium improves the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA and causes relaxation.
  • It has common and rare side effects and the risk of dependence, so it is usually prescribed for short-term usage.
  • Valium is available only by prescription provided by a licensed healthcare professional.

An annual poll conducted by the American Psychiatric Association showed that the number of people who feel more anxious compared to the previous year has increased by 6% [1*] in 2024. You are not alone if you notice high stress levels in your everyday life or struggle to maintain a positive mindset.

However, if stress and anxiety become overwhelming, it’s wise to seek professional support. In the case of an anxiety disorder, a healthcare provider recommends psychotherapy or medication, including Valium (diazepam). Read on to learn more about this medicine, its uses, side effects, and more.

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What Is Valium?

Valium, generic name diazepam, belongs to the class of medications called benzodiazepines [2*] . This class of medication acts on the central nervous system (CNS) and belongs to CNS depressants. They help your brain to slow down, specifically, slowing down the activity of neurotransmitters that deliver signals between nerve cells, which results in calmness and sedation.

Valium treats several conditions ranging from anxiety symptoms to muscle spasms to seizures. It has proven effective [3*] as the treatment of anxiety but has to be used only by prescription and under medical guidance.

When Is Valium Used?

Calming and soothing effects are the key effects of diazepam, and they may be necessary for managing different conditions. The most common reasons for prescribing diazepam are listed below:

  • Anxiety Disorders: Restlessness and excessive worrying are the symptoms associated with chronic anxiety, and Valium is FDA-approved [4*] for its treatment. It helps curb the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc.
  • Muscle Spasms: Diazepam relieves tension and spasms in the muscles that become stiff due to musculoskeletal problems.
  • Seizures: Valium is an anticonvulsant hence it is also used for the treatment of seizure disorders. It is often used in emergencies to stop seizures and with other medicines for patients having long-term convulsant disorders.
  • Insomnia: Stress-induced insomnia is often treated with this medication. However, in the treatment of long-term insomnia, it is not preferred due to its side effects.
  • Sedation: Valium can also be used as a sedative in medical procedures.

Notably, the use of diazepam should be carefully monitored and regulated to avoid

potential side effects or promptly address them. The dosage is usually defined according to the severity of the patient’s condition and other health features.

Valium for Anxiety Disorder: How It Works?

Valium binds itself to the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors. These receptors in our body primarily calm down nerve activity in the brain and promote relaxation. They also help reduce the paralyzing effects of anxiety and panic disorder.

Binding itself to these receptors, diazepam enhances the body’s natural levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid. As soon as the GABA levels increase, you start feeling relaxed and loosened up, being able to manage anxiety symptoms.

Go through an assessment, discuss available treatment options for anxiety, and receive a prescription if deemed necessary.

Valium vs Other Anxiety Medications

Alternatives to treating anxiety include the following:

Valium starts working faster than some other anxiety medications: it reaches peak plasma concentrations in up to 1.5 hours [5*] , while SSRIs and SNRIs take a few weeks to show their effects. On the other hand, diazepam is not suitable for long-term treatment as it carries the risk of withdrawal symptoms and addiction in this case. That is why it is typically used for acute anxiety, while extended-release medications are considered suitable for chronic conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder. Only a healthcare provider can determine what’s the best solution for anxiety based on your symptoms and needs.

Dosage

When treating anxiety, it is advised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start with a dose of 2 mg to 10 mg of Valium tablets taken 2 to 4 times daily. It can be the lower sufficient in the beginning or can be adjusted during the course of treatment. Note that the dose is chosen individually, and following the recommendations of your physician is the best course of action in order to achieve optimal results.

Side Effects

Valium can help treat various conditions but it also can lead to side effects, and knowing them is essential to get instant help.

Common side effects: 

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Ataxia (impairment in coordination and muscle control)
  • Emotional blunting
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in appetite

Rare side effects:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Severe drowsiness or fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Hypotension
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Jaundice
  • Allergic reaction

Experiencing light side effects from your medication is common and usually not life-threatening. However, talk with your healthcare provider about any disturbing or severe side effects (including jaundice, hallucinations, delusions, serious allergy, or frequent falling) to get help.

Precautions and Contraindications

Medical History

Before your healthcare provider prescribes Valium for you, make sure that you have informed them about your medical history in detail, including the following:

  • Any allergies that you may have
  • Glaucoma
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • A record of substance abuse
  • Breathing issues
  • Emotional disorder

Any of these conditions may influence the medication choice.

Possible Drug Interactions

Valium might interact with some other medications taken currently or recently, for example, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antihistamines, other benzos, etc. These drug interactions may lead to respiratory depression, sedation, or other negative effects, so it is important to inform your physician about any medications you are taking.

Allergic Reactions

Individuals who know they are allergic to this medication must avoid it. If skin rash, hives, swelling, or another symptom of allergy gets severe, seeking treatment is important.

CNS (Central Nervous System) Depression

It is better to stay away from driving or using heavy equipment when taking Valium because it has a calming effect on the nervous system and slows down reaction. As an added measure, avoid alcohol and other sedative substances to avoid interactions.

Dependence and Withdrawal

Due to its potential for abuse and dependence [6*] , diazepam is purposefully used in short-term

treatment for panic and anxiety disorders. Those who take high doses of this medication or use it for the long term are vulnerable to developing dependence and experiencing withdrawal symptoms during discontinuation. These symptoms include trembling, anxiousness,

irritability, muscular discomfort, seizures (in extreme cases), etc. To reduce the risk and the intensity of withdrawal, gradual dosage reduction is recommended.

Can Pregnant and Breastfeeding Patients Use Valium?

Generally, benzodiazepines are associated with the risk of negative perinatal outcomes [7*] , but not all medications in this class work have identical effects. According to the medicine’s official label, it is not recommended to take Valium during pregnancy unless the healthcare provider defines that the benefits of its use outweigh the risks. Valium is also known to enter breast milk, so breastfeeding is not recommended in this case. Consult with your physician to learn more about alternatives and receive an individualized treatment strategy, considering your current needs.

Obtaining a Prescription for Valium From an Online Clinician

Valium is not prescribed for mild anxiety, but rather for a patient with a diagnosed anxiety disorder. It is one of the many medications used for these conditions, and a healthcare provider chooses the most suitable one during the consultation. Here is what’s involved in the process:

  • Sign up on the platform to book a consultation with a medical provider.
  • Discuss your symptoms and medical history to choose the most suitable treatment.
  • Receive a prescription if deemed necessary.
  • Fill it out at a pharmacy.
  • If recommended by your physician, attend follow-up appointments for monitoring and adjustments.
Don’t let anxiety affect your life. Get professional assistance and obtain a prescription online if deemed necessary.

Conclusion

Diazepam can be effective as a temporary solution for alleviating symptoms of anxiety. It also has potential side effects and risks, so follow your clinician’s instructions on the dosage and proper use. MEDvidi is here to help you identify the most suitable treatment and offer timely care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Those who struggle with anxiety can experience calmness, sedation, and muscle relaxation when taking Valium because it acts on the central nervous system. Note that effects may not be identical for different patients, and if you experience severe side effects, consult with your clinician.
The dosage and frequency of use are determined by a healthcare provider individually based on your condition and other health aspects. Schedule an online appointment to receive personalized recommendations.
Yes, it is a common prescription medication for anxiety treatment. Still, depending on the condition, there may be a better choice for a particular person.
Its long-term usage is not recommended due to the risk of developing tolerance, dependence, and other negative effects. Discuss the duration of treatment and other instructions with your healthcare provider.
Valium is beneficial for some patients with acute anxiety symptoms. It can also help with managing spasms, seizures, and some other conditions due to its calming effect on the nervous system.
Both medications belong to the same family of benzodiazepines and are used to treat anxiety disorders. However, Xanax is only approved by the FDA for anxiety and panic attacks while Valium is also approved for several other conditions like muscle spasms, seizures, etc. There is no significant difference in their effectiveness, and both should be used short-term because of the risk of addiction.

Sources

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7 sources
  1. American Adults Express Increasing Anxiousness in Annual Poll
    Source link
  2. Benzodiazepines
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  3. The Effect of Lorazepam And Diazepam In Alleviating Anxiety Symptoms
    Source link
  4. Valium
    Source link
  5. Diazepam
    Source link
  6. The epidemiology of benzodiazepine misuse: A systematic review
    Source link
  7. Pregnancy and Delivery Outcomes Following Benzodiazepine Exposure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
    Source link
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
Reviewer:

Dr. Bradley Noon

MD
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
Reviewer:

Dr. Bradley Noon

MD

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in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.