By: Annabelle Clarke
May 08, 2021
The most prominent anti-anxiety medications on the market today are benzodiazepines. They are known for their potent durational effects that yield excellent patient success rates. Undoubtedly, one of the most effective tablets from the benzodiazepine class is diazepam, with the common trade-name Valium.
Although the tablet has a long list of successes under its belt due to its widespread application benefits and excellent safety profile, the possibility of experiencing side effects is still present. Side effects are adverse events that normally occur at the beginning of any treatment.
They often occur because treatments cannot be designed to target one specific part of the body only. These effects can range in intensity however diazepam side effects are commonly mild and manageable. The side effects often disappear quite quickly, and home remedies can be used to reduce the discomfort of individual effects.
Common diazepam side effects include:
- Loss of Muscle Coordination
Due to this therapeutic’s benzodiazepine status, the tablet first and foremost has a sedating effect on the body and mind. This effect is one of the critical elements needed when treating sleep and anxiety disorders. This primary effect is caused by the treatments attachment to GABA chemicals in the limbic system and the hypothalamus.
Once absorbed, the treatment essentially enhances the effects of GABA and modifies nerve communication in the CNS. This subsequently decreases anxiety and insomnia symptoms. In addition to this, the tablet also produces the following effects:
- Anti-anxiety – As the name suggests, this effect counters anxiety tendencies and symptoms. It essentially induces bouts of calmness to counter feelings of extreme fear and worry.
- Hypnotic – This effect is a precursor to sedation as it slows down CNS and brain activity by affecting specific receptors. This ultimately prepares the body for sedative effects that promote sleep.
- Anticonvulsant – This effect calms hyperactivity in the brain, which reduces the frequency and intensity of seizures.
- Muscle relaxant – This effect affects skeletal muscle functions and decreases muscle tone to promote the relaxation of large and small muscles.
Collectively these effects allow the tablet to be used as a stand-alone treatment or adjunctive/ add-on treatment. The tablet is available in 3 doses: diazepam 10 mg, diazepam 5 mg and diazepam 2 mg. Each dose contains the same properties and produces the same set of effects.
Withdrawal refers to abnormal physical and psychological responses that patients have after the abrupt discontinuation of a treatment. Almost all medication in the benzodiazepine category has the potential to produce withdrawal effects, and diazepam is no exception.
As mentioned earlier, withdrawal symptoms result from abruptly discontinuing the use of a treatment without following a tapering off schedule. A tapering schedule should start with the prescribed dose being reduced by 25% to 30%. Thereafter the dose must be further reduced by 5% to 10% weekly or daily.
Various factors affect the expression of withdrawal symptoms, such as a patient’s mental and physical health status and the treatment dose being taken. The following symptoms commonly occur with a mild expression:
- Muscle cramps
Diazepam’s withdrawal effect timeline is outlined below:
- Week 1 – Valium is a long-acting benzodiazepine; therefore, it may take a week to experience these withdrawal symptoms.
- Week 2 – These symptoms may increase in intensity.
- Week 3 and 4 – These symptoms are likely to improve or subsided completely.
To avoid withdrawal, patients should strictly follow the prescribed frequency, dosage, treatment duration and tapering off guideline suggested by medical experts.
Diazepam and Alcohol
Diazepam is an FDA approved anxiolytic that can treat various conditions such as anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures, and epilepsy. In addition to these uses, the tablet can also treat patients who are in alcohol recovery.
The tablet helps manage and control alcohol withdrawal symptoms by severing the physical and mental connection patients have to the substance. Although this tablet is indicated for this use, some patients ironically combine alcohol with the treatment.
Patients undergoing alcohol detoxification mix the treatment with alcohol to plateau withdrawal effects or amplify the effects of alcohol. However, the combination does neither of these; instead, it induces more severe diazepam side effects, which can be detrimental to patients overall health.
Alcohol consumption is linked to depressant actions, which suppress brain activity. This slows down various physiological processes, which cause the user to become lethargic, relaxed and drowsy. The mixture of diazepam tablets with alcoholic substances intensifies these effects, making the user vulnerable to the dangers of excessive CNS depression.
The combination can also cause:
- Loss of consciousness
- Addiction to one or both substances
Although this treatment is relatively safe with a low risk of adverse effects linked to it, the dangers are significantly increased if it is taken with alcohol thus, the combination should completely be avoided.
Does Diazepam Cause Weight Gain?
The numbers on the scale can induce a plethora of emotions, from anxiety, happiness to stress; it is safe to say that weight is a subject that most of us like to leave untouched. However, there are some instances where the topic of weight has to be discussed.
One such instance is when we start piling on the pounds following a treatment commencement, such as diazepam anxiety medication. Weight gain is commonly caused by one of two things, the first being that the pill stimulates the appetite encouraging patients to eat more. The second is that the treatment slows down the patient’s metabolism, which means the body burns calories at a slower rate. A study confirms that patients who were part of a diazepam dosage schedule gradually gained weight throughout their treatment plan.
The theory that the tablet induces weight gain was proved in this study as patients lost weight shortly after discontinuing the treatment. Experts ask patients to ignore the weight gain factor, if observed, as it is a minor inconvenience that quickly rectifies itself once the treatment plan is over.
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More Product Information:
- What is Diazepam?
- How Does Diazepam Work?
- Diazepam Dosage Info
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