Psychiatry & Medication

Valium for Anxiety

 April 27, 2022

By  Natalie Kirilova

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The Bottom Line

  • Valium is a benzodiazepine used for anxiety treatment.
  • Available in tablets, oral solution, injection, nasal spray, rectal gel.
  • Valium is an FDA-approved medication for anxiety disorder and its symptoms.

What is Valium?

Valium is a type of tranquilizer from the benzodiazepine family. It is a brand name for Diazepam. Is Valium for anxiety? It is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorder and its symptoms, alcohol withdrawal, seizures, sleep disturbances, and muscle spasms in adults. Doctors may prescribe it as a sedative preoperative medicine as well. Valium fits for short-term treatment. Long-run treatment leads to addiction and has no evidence of long-term use efficacy. 

How to get Valium for anxiety? It is a prescription-only medication. You should speak to a doctor about taking Valium for anxiety. It is available in tablets, oral solution, injection, nasal spray, and rectal gel forms. Oral tablets come in 2, 5, 10mg strengths. Together with the active ingredient, Diazepam, it contains anhydrous lactose, corn, and pregelatinized starch, calcium stearate. When administered into a vein, the effect can be felt in less than five minutes. If taken by mouth, the effect can be felt in 15 minutes up to 1 hour. 

What does Valium do for anxiety? Valium for anxiety works by affecting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and calming the brain and nerves. GABA is a chemical that suppresses nerve cells and blocks activity in the brain. The mechanism of Diazepam allows managing the symptoms of anxiety or related psychiatric abnormalities in adults. 

Is Valium good for anxiety? Please, address this question with your doctor. It does not fit every anxiety treatment.

Can Valium be taken for Anxiety?

Valium is prescribed for anxiety disorders and suitable for short-term treatment of symptoms only. Does Valium help anxiety? Anxiety derived from stress which occasionally occurs in everyday life does not require the application of Valium. It is not recommended for use in psychotic patients.

Is Valium FDA approved for Anxiety?

Valium is an FDA-approved medication prescribed for anxiety. First, it was approved in 1963 under the name of Valium for Roche Pharmaceuticals. In 1985, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its generic form Diazepam.  

What research supports Valium for Anxiety?

Extensive evidence about the efficacy of Valium for anxiety exists.

  • Diazepam for anxiety was researched on affecting emotional processing in 24 healthy volunteers. In one hour, they were assessed with psychological tests. Diazepam 15 mg has shown efficacy in decreasing angry facial expressions, startle onset, and fear manifestations consistent with anxiolytic responding.
  • Diazepam and caffeine were studied together on mood and memory effects. 108 healthy adults took Diazepam and caffeine separately and in combination. Diazepam increased calmness, sedation, mood and memory performance. Caffeine reversely boosted anxiety and proved no effect on emotional and learning activities.
  • Diazepam’s effect on mice behavior was researched in C57bl and BALB mice. Diazepam 1 and 3 mg doses increased sedation in C57BL, while in BALB Diazepam 1 mg dose reported anxiolytic action.

What do experts say about Valium for anxiety?

a psychiatrist, professor and medical director of addiction medicine at Stanford University

"A drug like Ativan or Valium works on the calming neurotransmitter in our brain, which allows us to relax. They also work on the brain's reward pathway and increase dopamine release, which means they're inherently reinforcing, even separate from their sedative properties. So people take them and feel improved in all kinds of different ways. It doesn't have to be like a high -- they just feel better."

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Valium for anxiety:

  • drowsiness;
  • headache;
  • fatigue;
  • muscle weakness;
  • confusion;
  • depression;
  • nausea;
  • blurred vision.

Taking Diazepam for longer than 4-6 weeks may lead to addiction. 

Some side effects occurred in overdose:

  • trouble breathing;
  • drowsiness;
  • weakness.

Valium is a controlled substance. Abuse of Valium for social anxiety is occasionally observed. Drug addicts should be supervised with caution when taking it for anxiety. They are subjects to habituation. In case, a patient has been reported with dependence, the termination of the intake is required. The discontinuation is associated with withdrawal symptoms. 

The common withdrawal symptoms are:

  • irritability;
  • headache;
  • tremor;
  • vomiting.

Can Valium cause anxiety? Yes, Valium can cause anxiety as a withdrawal symptom especially after sudden discontinuation. 

In case of overdose, please seek emergency help immediately (call 911).

Does Valium have interactions with other medications?

Many medications may alter the way Valium for anxiety and depression works. It is important to speak to your doctor if you already take medications, herbs or health supplements.

It should not be taken alongside CNS depressants. Such interactions may cause severe side effects, overdose or be fatal. 

Diazepam combined with opioids may lead to respiratory failure.

Strict supervision is required when Valium dosage for anxiety is taken alongside phenothiazines, sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics, MAO inhibitors. 

Can Valium be used for anxiety alongside other anti-anxiety medications? Such interactions are not safe. Please, do not combine them, and speak to your doctor if you already take anxiolytic medications.

Tuberculosis, sleep, cold and flu, pain medications taken alongside Valium may increase sleepiness. 

Do not take Valium for anxiety with alcohol. It may maximize the sedative effect. Abstain from grapefruit juice because it does not let the liver process Diazepam correctly.

Inform your doctor if your work is connected with operating heavy machinery or if you drive. Valium may alter your alertness.

Can you take Valium while pregnant or breastfeeding? 

Valium for anxiety is potentially linked to the development of abnormalities, respiratory difficulties during pregnancy in a fetus. Born children whose mother took Diazepam during pregnancy may have withdrawal symptoms. 

Valium used during labor should be taken with extreme caution, high doses may develop heart rate irregularities in a fetus.

Diazepam should not be taken when breastfeeding, as it passes into breast milk. 

Does valium help with anxiety in pregnant women? Please, discuss its effect with your doctor. 

How to take Valium?

Valium is individually prescribed based on anxiety condition, age. The below information on the application is mentioned with tablet form. 

How to take Valium for anxiety?

Adults. The dose ranges from 2mg up to 10 mg. The treatment starts with the lowest dosage of 2mg taken 2 to 4 times per day.

Children. The use in children below 6 months has no clinical evidence about the efficacy. Children over 6 months may be prescribed with dosages not exceeding 2.5 mg taken 3 to 4 times per day.

Elderly. Senior patients are occasionally prescribed with 2.5 mg taken 1-2 times per day.

How to get prescribed Valium for anxiety? Consult your doctor only. It may not be fit for your health condition.

Take it only as directed. If you skip the dose, do not take a double of what has been prescribed before to catch up with the regimen. In case, you discontinue the use, you are at risk of experiencing withdrawal side effects. 

Are there alternatives to Valium? 

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Valium for Anxiety 

Valium is a controlled substance that should be taken under the strict doctor’s supervision. There are a variety of other prescription medications for anxiety:

  • Klonopin

  • Buspirone

  • Lexapro

  • Prozac

  • Paxil

  • Xanax

  • Inderal

  • Cymbalta

  • Tofranil

  • Hydroxyzine

  • Zoloft

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Valium, 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 Valium 

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety  here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Valium 

Learn more about different energy & holistics modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Valium

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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