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Psychiatry & Medication

Librium for Anxiety

 April 27, 2020

By  Natalie Kirilova

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The Bottom Line:

  • Librium is a medication used to treat anxiety and alcohol withdrawal.

  • It is an FDA-approved for anxiety treatment.

  • Available in capsules of 5,10,25mg strengths.

  • It is prescribed with caution due to abuse and dependence potentiality.

What is Librium?

Librium is a medication from the benzodiazepine (benzo) group. It is used for short-term treatment of anxiety disorders. A doctor may occasionally prescribe it to relieve anxiety in patients before surgery. The use of medication is also linked to the treatment of alcohol withdrawal. 

A benzo medication, Librium acts as a tranquilizer by affecting chemicals in the brain and nervous system. It elevates the effects of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) which then develops sedation and relieves anxiety.

This medication has the potential for abuse and dependence. Librium has been known to have been misused to get high or enhance the effect of other medications. There is no known evidence about its efficacy for long-term treatment of anxiety. When taking it, caution is required to monitor the respiratory depression side effect and excessive sedation.

Chlordiazepoxide is a generic name and the active ingredient of Librium. It is available in capsules of 5, 10, 25 mg strengths of chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride alongside corn starch, lactose, talc.

Can Librium be taken for Anxiety?

Librium works as a sedative medication, however, its precise mechanism of action for anxiety treatment is not clearly understood. Librium is believed to provide antianxiety action by affecting natural chemicals in the brain. Stress-related anxiety caused by everyday life does not require treatment with Librium. Doctors should always assess the applicability of this medication. 

Is Librium  FDA approved for anxiety?

Librium is the first approved benzodiazepine medication in the U.S. In, 1960, it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat anxiety disorders and alcohol withdrawal in adults. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recommends its use to be placed under strict control, as high doses of the medication can lead to addiction or be misused. 

What research supports Librium for anxiety? 

There is limited research about the use of Librium for anxiety.

  • Aggressive monkeys were tamed by the use of Chlordiazepoxide. It eliminated the manifestations of fear and aggression and provided sedative effects. Also, the study has been conducted with vicious rats. The taming effect was demonstrated as well. This medication has shown efficacy by blocking vicious behavior and causing sedation in both animals.

What do experts say about Librium for anxiety?

Dr. Fritz A. Freyhan, a former director of research at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center says “I think Librium has a good effect on certain types of anxiety states for patients suffering from certain types of tension and phobia. It has been used with good effect, I believe, in the treatment of withdrawal from alcohol, and there are a number of instances in which it has been used for mildly psychotic states.”

What are the possible side effects? 

With the right dosage adjustment for anxiety treatment, side effects are rare. The common side effects are likely to occur in the elderly and medically fragile patients:

  • dizziness;

  • ataxia;

  • confusion;

  • skin eruptions;

  • edema;

  • irregular menstrual cycle;

  • nausea;

  • low libido.

Librium discontinuation is followed by withdrawal symptoms:

  • muscle cramps;

  • tremor;

  • anxiety;

  • vomiting;

  • excessive sweating.

Abrupt discontinuation of the intake is prohibited. A doctor gradually lowers the dose.

Drug addicts should be treated with caution while taking Librium for anxiety. This medication is habit-forming and controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) due to abuse and dependency potential.

Librium overdose events have been reported. The common symptoms of overdose:

  • somnolence;

  • confusion;

  • coma.

If you believe you overdosed, seek emergency assistance immediately (call 911).

Does Librium have interactions with other medications? 

Librium should not be taken alongside other medications without a doctor’s approval. Speak to your doctor about all possible interactions. Some medications may alter the way Librium works or cause side effects. Do not take it if you want to enhance the effect of other medications. 

Contraindicated Interactions:

  • Sedatives;

  • Hypnotics;

  • Alcohol Oxybate.

These interactions may cause severe side effects:

  • Fluvoxamine;

  • Opioids;

  • Ethyl;

  • Clozapine.

Medications should not interact alongside Librium due to the risk of side effects:

  • Fluoxetine;

  • Methadone;

  • Cimetidine;

  • Idelasibib.

Do not take Librium alongside opioids. Such interactions may lead to respiratory depression. 

Abstain from alcohol while taking Librium. Both provide sedative effects on the brain and body. You may experience trouble breathing. 

Do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery until you know how Librium affects your health condition. 

Can you take Librium while pregnant or breastfeeding? 

Pregnant women should not take Librium. The medication use during pregnancy has been linked to congenital malformations and abnormalities of the fetus. 

Speak to your doctor if you are pregnant or have intentions to get pregnant. If you become pregnant when taking Librium, the gradual discontinuation is required by a physician.

There is no proven evidence about Librium to be excreted into breast milk. However, the medication has the potential to remain in the body for up to 30 hours, and its metabolites for a maximum of 200 hours. 

Can children take Librium for anxiety? 

Librium for anxiety is not prescribed for pediatric use. As per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is not recommended to prescribe Librium for children under 6.

How to take Librium? 

Librium dosage is individualized based on age, anxiety disorder or symptoms, and response. Take it as directed by your doctor.

  • Adults with mild anxiety symptoms. 5-10mg 3 to 4 times per day.

  • Adults with severe anxiety symptoms or disorders. 20-25mg 4 to 4 times per day.

  • Elderly or medically fragile patients with an anxiety disorder. 5 mg 2 to 4 times per day.

Do not exceed the dosage prescribed by your doctor. If you skip a dose, take it as soon as possible. 

The medication is individually prescribed for use with or without food to maximize benefits. Make a habit of following the same time frame or regimen daily.

Are there alternatives to Librium? 

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Librium  for Anxiety 

Librium is an FDA-approved medication to treat anxiety. The same as other benzo drugs, it works by affecting chemicals in the brain and providing relief for anxiety. However, it may not fit your particular case. Speak to your doctor about taking other prescription medications for anxiety. Some of them are:

  • Klonopin

  • Valium

  • Lexapro

  • Prozac

  • Buspirone

  • Xanax

  • Inderal

  • Cymbalta

  • Tofranil

  • Hydroxyzine

  • Zoloft

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Librium, another medication or treatment modality is right for you, we recommend that you speak with a licensed psychiatrist. Here are the best online psychiatry platforms so you can speak with someone right away!

Therapy as an Alternative to Librium

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Librium

Learn more about different energy & holistics modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Librium

Learn more about tech & devices for anxiety here

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.


Natalie is a writer with a focus in medical research with over 10 years of experience

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