Diazepam (Valium®) is a medicine approved to treat several conditions, including alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures. This prescription medication is approved for adults and children as young as six months old. It comes in several forms and is typically taken three or four times a day.
Diazepam is part of a group of medicines called benzodiazepines. These drugs have several effects on the body, including:
- Reducing anxiety
- Causing sleepiness
- Relaxing muscles
- Stopping seizures
- Impairing short-term memory.
As a benzodiazepine medicine, diazepam works in the brain by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that is naturally calming. GABA can slow down or stop certain nerve signals in the brain. This is why diazepam and other benzodiazepines are known as mild tranquilizers, sedatives, or central nervous system depressants (CNS depressants).
Although most people do not experience any problems with this medicine, diazepam is not suitable for everyone. Make sure your healthcare provider is aware of any other medications you are taking (including vitamins and nonprescription drugs), as well as any other medical conditions you may have.
(Click Diazepam and What Is Diazepam Used For? for a complete overview of this medicine. These articles also discuss how this drug works, potential side effects, and safety concerns to be aware of before taking it.)