What Are the Side Effects of Diazepam?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Stomach upset is a possible side effect of taking diazepam.
Stomach upset is a possible side effect of taking diazepam.

Diazepam (Valium®) is a benzodiazepine drug that can cause muscle relaxation, and is typically used to treat anxiety disorders and possibly seizure disorders. It also may be used to reduce dizziness in people who suffer from conditions like Meniere’s disease. The main side effects of diazepam are separated into benign and infrequent but serious effects requiring immediate medical attention. Not all users of this medication experience all of its adverse effects.

Some patients experience headaches and blurred vision while taking diazepam.
Some patients experience headaches and blurred vision while taking diazepam.

The benign side effects of diazepam are also sometimes seen as beneficial. Effects like drowsiness or feeling tired may be desirable if it is used for sleep or to reduce anxiety. Other effects may not be as pleasant, and some of them include: excess drooling, slight memory impairment, impairment of motor skills or hand eye coordination required to drive a vehicle, dry mouth, disinterest in sex, changes in speech pronunciation or speed, drunkenness or dizziness, rash, stomach upset that could include changes in bowel movements or vomiting, headaches, and changes to visual acuity that blur vision. These effects aren’t necessarily dangerous, but a high number of adverse effects should be mentioned to a physician, as another medication may be more appropriate.

Diazepam can be used as a muscle relaxant to treat muscle strains associated with vigorous exercise.
Diazepam can be used as a muscle relaxant to treat muscle strains associated with vigorous exercise.

The serious side effects of diazepam should be noted so a person can get medical attention right away if one or more of these occur. The drug can cause a severe allergy reaction, which is often evidenced by difficult breathing, rash or hives, and swelling of the lips, face, and tongue. Valium® may also cause increased suicidal thinking, hallucinations, confusion, fainting feelings, reduced or faint breathing, a sudden onset of flu symptoms that include fever, chills and muscle aches, tremors, involuntary muscle movement or twitches, decreased inhibitions with behavior that creates physical, emotional or financial risk, double vision, or jaundice.

Drowsiness is one side effect of diazepam.
Drowsiness is one side effect of diazepam.

A number of medications and substances either shouldn’t be taken or may enhance the side effects of diazepam. Most psychiatric medicines are included in this list, though they are frequently prescribed with Valium®. Other medications like anti-seizure drugs and pain medications may also interact with it. Doctors should have a complete list of patient medications prior to prescribing diazepam, and should know about patient use of cannabis or alcohol, since both of these may have a stronger effect when used with Valium®.

Diazepam is a prescription primarily given to patients with anxiety disorders.
Diazepam is a prescription primarily given to patients with anxiety disorders.

Certain conditions also contraindicate use and could increase side effects of diazepam. People who are pregnant or nursing, or who have eye diseases like glaucoma should avoid most of the benzodiazepines. Other conditions that could contraindicate or limit use include breathing problems like sleep apnea or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, advanced diseases of the liver, and myasthenia gravis.

Because diazepam is a benzodiazepine, it has a high potential for addiction.
Because diazepam is a benzodiazepine, it has a high potential for addiction.

Long-term use may create another of the side effects of diazepam. The drug tends to cause dependency, so people are advised to discontinue use through drug tapering. For some people, even tapering is challenging, and they may need more support to end medication use.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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    • Stomach upset is a possible side effect of taking diazepam.
      By: Julija Sapic
      Stomach upset is a possible side effect of taking diazepam.
    • Some patients experience headaches and blurred vision while taking diazepam.
      By: memo
      Some patients experience headaches and blurred vision while taking diazepam.
    • Diazepam can be used as a muscle relaxant to treat muscle strains associated with vigorous exercise.
      By: BlueSkyImages
      Diazepam can be used as a muscle relaxant to treat muscle strains associated with vigorous exercise.
    • Drowsiness is one side effect of diazepam.
      By: photopitu
      Drowsiness is one side effect of diazepam.
    • Diazepam is a prescription primarily given to patients with anxiety disorders.
      By: Minerva Studio
      Diazepam is a prescription primarily given to patients with anxiety disorders.
    • Because diazepam is a benzodiazepine, it has a high potential for addiction.
      By: kmiragaya
      Because diazepam is a benzodiazepine, it has a high potential for addiction.