It could be before a job interview, the first day of work, a big test in the morning, or even going on a first date. Anxiety is a standard part of our lives and an emotion we’ve all experienced from time to time. For most people, these jitters come and go and don’t impact their well-being, while others will be impacted significantly. Anxiety can be so severe that a person is confined to their home.
There are various forms of the condition, but anxiety is considered by the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) as the most common mental illness in the U.S. Unfortunately, 40 million adults will deal with this horrible issue this year, which translates to 18.1 percent of the total adult population. Despite their treatability, only 36 percent will reach out for help.
Those who experience anxiety in one form or another are also more likely to suffer from depression and vice versa. Nearly 50 percent of those diagnosed with depression will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Although various remedies exist to treat the condition(s) naturally, sometimes a doctor might turn to chemical relief to ease some of your symptoms.
Valium, also known as diazepam, is a benzodiazepine drug used to treat anxiety attacks and, in some cases, depression. The central nervous system (CNS) depressant works by slowing down the activity in your brain. For a person dealing with an anxiety attack or bouts of severe anxiety, their body goes into overdrive. The feelings are overwhelming and can bring a person to their knees in tears. When this happens, using a drug like Valium can slow down an overactive nervous system and get the person back to reality.
Valium is also used to halt specific manic symptoms, such as agitation. Valium is typically prescribed for only a short period due to its potential for abuse. In bipolar disorder, it’s prescribed for a few weeks or less to deal with the manic symptoms. It can also treat skeletal muscle spasms caused by trauma or inflammation, as well as spasticity, which is a condition where your muscles contract involuntarily.
Valium can also be used in conjunction with other medications to treat seizure disorders. It’s also beneficial in helping those in alcohol withdrawal overcome their symptoms to calm tremors and control delirium tremens (DTs) or agitation.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Several types of anxiety disorders could affect your life. The most common include the following:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated tension, and worry. In most cases, little or nothing is provoking these feelings, and they come out of nowhere.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder dealing with recurrent or unwanted thoughts known as obsessions, and repetitive behaviors, known as compulsions. Repetitive behaviors such as counting, checking, hand washing, or cleaning are conducted with the intention of preventing obsessive thoughts and making them go away. However, performing these rituals provides temporary relief, but not executing them will cause a remarkable increase in anxiety. For severe episodes, a drug like Valium can reduce the urge.
- Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is characterized by repeated and unexpected episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms, including heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, or abdominal stress.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or situation where grave physical harm occurred or happened as a threat. Traumatic events that trigger PTSD include natural or human-caused disasters, violent personal assaults, accidents, or military combat.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: Social anxiety disorder is a condition that causes overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia may only be limited to one type of situation, including eating or drinking in front of others, a fear of speaking in form or informal situations, or in severe cases, the person can experience it anytime they’re around others.
If you’re experiencing any one of the above or a combination of these conditions, it’s often hard to leave the house and conduct your daily routine. Your doctor could prescribe a drug like Valium to balance these symptoms or keep depression in check. Although it may provide relief in the short-term, Valium can be extremely addictive and cause adverse side effects.
Side Effects of Valium
The most common side effects of Valium are similar to that of lorazepam or other benzodiazepines. These include:
- Loss of control over body movement
- Muscle weakness
- Symptoms of dependence or withdrawal after cessation
Other more severe side effects of using Valium, which can occur even when used therapeutically, includes the following:
- Difficulty speaking
- Severe depressive symptoms
- Slurred speech similar to alcohol intoxication
- Altered sex drive
- Low blood pressure
- Changes in your mental state
- Double vision
- Difficulties urinating
- Dry mouth
- Skin rash
- Seizures during withdrawal
Valium is considered a Schedule IV drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The scheduling is used to determine a drug’s medical and addictive qualities. Other Schedule IV drugs include Ativan, Ambien, and Xanax. Those with a history of drug addiction or dependence should exercise extreme caution when using Valium. By following your doctor’s orders, you can reduce the potential for abuse, although it can still occur.
Taking Valium can impair your ability to drive a car, operate machinery, or perform other tasks that involve focus. The side effects will wear off with time, but if they persist even after several hours, you should refrain from driving or other potentially dangerous tasks. If the side effects don’t go away, speak with your doctor immediately.
Most individuals who use this medication won’t experience these side effects. Before using Valium, you should disclose all mental health issues in your family, including bipolar disorder, mani, history of suicide, or depression. Valium may cause existing behavior or worsen mental health problems. If you experience new or worsening mental health symptoms that include hallucinations or sudden suspicions, call your doctor right away. These reactions are more common in children and the elderly.
Precautions Associated With Valium
You should always store your medications in a safe place and out of the reach of children. You should never use Valium if you’re sensitive to benzodiazepines or have the condition acute narrow-angle glaucoma. If you are planning on becoming pregnant, you should avoid using Valium due to a high potential of fetal harm. Valium is passed through breastmilk, so mothers should not nurse when using the medication.
Interactions Associated With Valium
Before considering Valium use, you should discuss all the medications you’re using with your doctor. Whether they’re over-the-counter or herbal supplements, all drugs have the potential to interact with Valium, so it’s important to let your doctor know. If you’re using the following medications, they can have a severe interaction with Valium, including:
- Sodium oxybate
- Pain relievers
- Muscle relaxants
- Other benzodiazepines
Using antacids can also decrease the effectiveness of Valium, and let all doctors know you’re using Valium before surgery or laboratory tests. The above-listed drugs are not a complete list of drug interactions.
Valium withdrawal can be dangerous, and in some cases, fatal. If you’ve been using Valium for an extended period and have built a tolerance, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms if you miss a dose or abruptly stop. Tolerance refers to when a person needs a higher dosage of Valium to achieve the same effects. When you develop a tolerance, it’s the first indicator that you could be developing an addiction.
The most common symptoms of acute withdrawal include a combination of the following:
- Physical symptoms: These can include nausea, headaches, vomiting, cramps, stomach pain, and tremors.
- Cardiovascular symptoms: These are associated with rebound anxiety or part of the withdrawal process, including increased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Neurological symptoms: These symptoms can include confusion and the potential of seizures. Seizures are a severe condition that can be fatal and require immediate medical attention.
Psychological symptoms: Psychological symptoms in conjunction with the above-listed withdrawals can be brutal. Mood swings, intense cravings, panic attacks, depression, and rebound anxiety can push a person over the edge and relapse. If you’re ready to stop using Valium, you should seek medical detox for help.