Valium (Diazepam) Side Effects Guide
Valium is a prescription medication that can be helpful with some conditions but also has numerous side effects. This page will help you better understand the side effects of Valium and how to get help if you think that you or a loved one has a valium addiction.
Why is Valium Prescribed?
Valium is usually prescribed for anxiety, as well as insomnia, muscle spasms, and alcohol withdrawal. Valium is the brand name for diazepam, which is classified as a benzodiazepine. Valium, like all benzodiazepines, is a type of medication that inhibits activity in the GABA receptor in the brain, which leads to drowsiness and a sense of calmness. First sold in 1996, Valium became one of the most widely sold prescription drugs of all time, which is perhaps not surprising, given that anxiety affects approximately 40 million Americans. Valium was the “go-to” drug for many years as the first line of defense in dealing with anxiety. Valium works quickly, especially for anxiety, which made it extremely popular. In 2011, over 14 million prescriptions were written for Valium.1 However, Valium also has several side effects, some of which are unpleasant.
What Are the Side Effects of Valium?
The most common side effects of Valium are:2
- Blurry vision.
- Loss of coordination.
- Muscle weakness.
Some people might experience severe muscle weakness, while others may have diarrhea.2
Rare side effects that occur in people who take Valium include:3
- Unusually low numbers of certain types of white blood cells.
- Bone marrow disorders.
- Hemolytic anemia, which involves red blood cells bursting.
- Manic episodes.
- Thoughts of suicide.
- Low blood pressure.
- Liver disorders.
- Memory loss.
- Trouble breathing.
- Dry mouth.
While many of these side effects can occur at any time when taking Valium, some side effects are more likely to occur if you continue to take Valium, especially at higher doses. Long-term Valium use side effects also include tolerance, which occurs when your body adapts to a drug. 1 When you develop tolerance, it takes more and more Valium for it to give you the same effects. However, after tolerance develops, the most concerning side effect is dependence. 1 Once you become dependent, your body needs Valium to feel normal. If you abruptly stop taking Valium, you will have symptoms of physical withdrawal.4 Withdrawal symptoms include:5
- Severe anxiety.
The risk of more severe symptoms, including falls and low blood pressure, are of special consideration in the elderly.
Valium & Mental Health
Valium can harm your mental health. As noted earlier, Valium can cause depression, manic episodes, and agitation.3 One study, in particular, noted a significant relationship between using Valium or another benzodiazepine for over 90 days and suicide in people with post-traumatic stress disorder.6 Another study in Sweden found an association between suicide and benzodiazepines, such as Valium, and no other medication type was found to be associated with increased suicidal behavior.7 In addition, the stresses and anxiety of Valium addiction have a serious impact on your overall mental well-being.
Does Valium Reduce Blood Pressure?
Valium usually leads to lower blood pressure.3 Valium and other benzodiazepines are used to treat high blood pressure in some cases, but even if you are taking it for anxiety, your blood pressure can be affected. In elderly people, Valium and other benzodiazepines can be especially risky. It is not uncommon for older people to have episodes of low blood pressure while taking Valium, which can lead to lightheadedness and result in a substantially increased risk of falls.8 Another side effect of Valium that does not get a lot of attention is how Valium and other benzodiazepines impact a person’s sexual health. Valium and other benzodiazepines can cause lowered sex drive in both men and women and erectile dysfunction in men.9
Other Long Term Side Effects of Valium
As with any medication, the longer that you take Valium, the more likely you are to develop certain long-term side effects. One of the most serious long-term side effects of Valium and other benzodiazepines is cognitive impairment. Studies have shown that cognitive impairment is not easily resolved. People can display cognitive impairment for as long as 3 months after they have stopped using benzodiazepines. In addition, the longer a person takes Valium or another benzodiazepine, the more likely they are to develop an addiction or have withdrawal if they try to stop using these medications. Furthermore, benzodiazepine use is strongly associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents. People often are unaware that benzodiazepines can severely impact your mental acuity and reflexes while driving.10 Valium and other benzodiazepines have been associated with personality changes, mood swings, and loss of motivation. 11 Furthermore, long-term Valium use can also have a reverse effect on the symptoms.
Social Side Effects of Valium Addiction
An addiction to Valium can manifest in numerous ways. The social effects of Valium addiction include:12
- Being unable to fulfill your responsibilities at home or work due to Valium use.
- Having several unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop using Valium.
- Having increased family conflict over your Valium use.
- Giving up things you used to find important, such as hobbies, and replacing this with using Valium.
- Spending a lot of time trying to find Valium, as well as using Valium, and getting over your use of Valium.
- Using Valium in high-risk situations, such as when driving or swimming.
- Continuing to use Valium, even though you know it makes a physical illness or mental health issue worse.
Finding Help for Valium Addiction
American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of Valium addiction treatment, offering treatment locations in Nevada and across the United States. We can offer you an individualized treatment program designed to best help you overcome your Valium addiction. Our compassionate and caring staff members will be there to support and guide you in your treatment and help you find your way to long-term recovery. Call us today at our 24/7 free and confidential helpline to get started on your journey to recovery from Valium addiction.
We can be reached at .