After Diazepam hit the market in 1963, the way the medical world deals with a wide array of afflictions—everything from anxiety to insomnia to different types of withdrawal—changed forever. This miracle drug, originally marketed as Valium, has given millions of people their lives back in the fifty-plus years it’s been prescribed. Keep reading if you’d like to learn more about Diazepam and how it helps improve the standard of living for so many around the world.
How Diazepam Works
Diazepam belongs to a school of drugs called benzodiazepines. These are drugs that have sedative effects which can relieve anxiety and help relax a person’s muscles. Essentially, they help the person taking them feel at ease.
When you take the Diazepam, it works by focusing on your brain’s gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors, also known as just GABA receptors. By acting on these receptors, gamma-aminobutyric acid is released into your system from your brain. As a neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid’s job is to help calm the nerves. It helps to keep the nerves inside your brain acting in harmony and is also integral in the process of falling asleep, letting go of anxiety and relaxing your muscles. So, obviously, the more of that chemical in your system, the more at ease you’ll be.
As you can probably guess from the above description, there is no shortage of conditions Diazepam can help with. Most often, however, Diazepam is prescribed for anxiety related illnesses. It’s especially effective with manic psychological disorders as it acts so quickly to calm the person down. So people facing bipolar disorder, for example, can often take a benzodiazepine like Diazepam and quickly recover from the intense and instant depression that is often part of the disease.
Another illness that can be treated with Diazepam is insomnia. Often the sleep depriving illness is rooted in some kind of anxiety and stress or simply an inability to switch the mind off, so to speak. By releasing large amounts of gamma-aminobutyric acid into the body, these debilitating agents can be quieted and the person can fall asleep. Other sleep-related ailments like night terrors or sleepwalking can often be addressed through the use of this drug. However, it is always prescribed in small amounts or for only short period of times when the problem has to do with sleep. The effects can last so long that when the person does wake up, they’re still drowsy from the dose.
Another important use of Diazepam is in calming the effects of convulsions and seizures brought on by epilepsy. It’s especially prevalent in situations where someone has a seizure, doesn’t regain consciousness and then goes into convulsions again. Thanks to the gamma-aminobutyric acid, nerve activity that often leads to these episodes are put at ease.
Lastly, the drug is used in a number of other scenarios where a patient needs to relax immediately. People having a hard time dealing with surgery may often take a dose of Diazepam shortly before going under to soothe their nerves and decrease the likelihood of any consequences. For the same reason, the drug is often given to alcoholics who are having manic episodes of withdrawal. Again, by calming all the nerve activity in their brains, they have a harder time feeling dependent on their drug of choice.
Like any prescription medication, Diazepam can certainly have unintended side effects. For one thing, as it works to relax the muscles, some people can feel exceedingly weak for a prolonged period of time. The same goes for their mental acuity. Their relaxation can often last well into the next day. These side effects are dramatically compounded if/when alcohol is consumed along with the drug. For this reason, spirits should always be avoided when taking the medication. Also, while the above effects don’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t take Diazepam, it does mean you’ll want to take care with your schedule so you’re not driving a car or operating heavy machinery anytime in the near future after taking the medication.
It’s also important that the prescription is taken only moderately and for short periods of time. Diazepam can be highly addictive, for one thing, as it essentially makes people relax and feel amazing (the aim of a number of drugs). But the body can also build up a tolerance to it as well if it’s taken for a long enough period of time. If this happens, you’ll begin developing withdrawal symptoms for Diazepam. For this reasons, it’s also essential that when you do go off Diazepam, it’s done through tapering. Slowly going off the prescription is the only way to avoid rebound effects of the original ailment or symptoms of withdrawal.
Is It Right for Me?
In the end, you’ll have to speak to your doctor about Diazepam, so they’ll know if it’s right for you or not. But there are some characteristics that make the drug better suited for some than for others.
Children should generally never be prescribed the drug, except in rare cases. If they sleep walk, for example, the drug may be helpful for a short period of time.
Anyone who has decreased functioning in their liver or kidney should also steer clear of the prescription. People with those issues generally need to be very careful about what they ingest and run through those organs.
Although the medication is often prescribed for depression and other mental disorders, there are times when these types of problems aren’t a good match for Diazepam. If you have suffered the loss of a friend or family member recently, for example, taking the medication can affect how you deal with this traumatic event on a mental level. Again, your doctor will know best if this drug is right for you. But it’s essential that you are open, honest and upfront with them about your symptoms and anything happening in your life that could be causing them. Diazepam is an amazing and powerful drug, but it needs to be treated with respect. So long as you do that, it could be the ticket you need on the road to recovery.