Diazepam is a medicine mainly used to treat people with anxiety. To get diazepam, you need a prescription written for you by a doctor.
Looking for a medicine?
Visit healthdirect’s list of medicines that contain diazepam to find out more about a specific medicine.
What is diazepam used for?
Diazepam is used to treat anxiety that is more serious than that caused by the normal stress of everyday life. Diazepam is also used to relax muscles and treate muscle spasms that occur due to injury and conditions like cerebral palsy and paraplegia. It can also be used to treat panic attacks as well as symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, such as trembling, confusion and anxiety.
How does diazepam work?
Diazepam works on several different chemicals in the brain. Overall, it slows the brain and slows the transmission of information from the brain to the nerves.
What forms of diazepam are available?
Diazepam is the name of the active ingredient. It is available in many different brands, which have different:
- appearances (size, shape or colour)
- forms (tablets, liquid or by injection)
No matter which brand you are prescribed, diazepam works in the same way to treat your condition.
Risks and benefits of diazepam
All medicines have benefits but also the risk of side effects. Diazepam helps most people with anxiety but some people have side effects.
The most common side effects include:
- muscle weakness
It can also make you forgetful and dizzy.
There are other rare side effects. Tell your doctor at once or go to the emergency unit of your nearest hospital if you experience any of these symptoms:
- sudden excitation or anxiety
- feelings of restlessness, agitation or anger
- abnormal behaviour
- hallucinations (hearing, seeing or smelling things that aren’t there)
- difficulties in breathing
- serious sleep disturbances
In general, diazepam should be used only for short periods, around 2 to 4 weeks, unless advised by your doctor. If used over a long period, you can become addicted to diazepam. Check with your doctor for how long you can take diazepam. If you are thinking of stopping or lowering your dose, speak with your doctor. Suddenly stopping the medicine can cause side effects.
For more information about diazepam, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. You can also read the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) leaflet about diazepam.
Alternatives to diazepam
Psychological treatment, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), is usually the main treatment for anxiety. However, adding medicine such as diazepam may be helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms.
Asking about your treatment or medication is important to help you understand your options. Read our guide to important questions to ask your pharmacist or doctor before taking a medicine.
You can also visit healthdirect's list of medicines that contain diazepam to read the CMI for the brand of diazepam prescribed.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: December 2018
Benzodiazepines: what are they? - myDr.com.au
Benzodiazepines, benzos, are also known as minor tranquillisers.
Read more on myDr website
Benzodiazepines - Better Health Channel
Benzodiazepines (tranquillisers) are highly addictive and should only be used for certain conditions in a short-term or emergency situation.
Read more on Better Health Channel website
Benzodiazepines/Tranquilisers - BluePages
Find out if tranquillisers are likely to help.
Read more on e-hub Web Services - Australian National University (ANU) website
Prescription Drugs - Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre
Prescription Drugs The non medical use of prescription drugs can occur when people use prescription drugs to get high or because they have become addicted to them through trying to manage chronic pain or psychological distress
Read more on Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet website
Types of drugs | Australian Government Department of Health
Drugs can be grouped together in different ways — by the way they affect the body or by how or where they are used. Find out which drugs we are focused on reducing in Australia.
Read more on Department of Health website
Prescription opioids Effects and FAQs | Your Room
Opioids are natural drugs derived from the opium poppy or synthetic drugs, and have a depressant or sedating effect, causing the brain and central nervous system to slow down.
Read more on NSW Health website
Heroin Effects, Addiction, Overdose and Withdrawal | Your Room
Heroin comes with many short and long term side effects. Find out what to do in the case of addiction, overdose or withdrawal and places to get help.
Read more on NSW Health website
Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline
24 hour health advice you can count on
Government Accredited with over 140 information partners
We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice