Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Diazepam

3-minute read

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:

  • names
  • appearances (size, shape or colour)
  • forms (tablets, liquid or by injection)
  • packaging

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:

  • tiredness
  • sleepiness
  • muscle weakness
  • unsteadiness

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.

There are alternatives to diazepam for muscle spasms, such as heat, exercise, relaxation and other medication.

More information

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

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Benzodiazepines/Tranquilisers - BluePages

Find out if tranquillisers are likely to help.

Read more on e-hub Web Services - Australian National University (ANU) website

Benzodiazepines: what are they? - myDr.com.au

Benzodiazepines ('benzos') are also known as minor tranquillisers.

Read more on myDr website

Benzodiazepines | Drugs | ReachOut Australia

Benzodiazepines are a depressant drug usually prescribed for sleep disorders or anxiety. Many people use them recreationally to get high.

Read more on ReachOut.com 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 (Xanax) Effects, Addiction & Withdrawal | Your Room

Benzodiazepines (eg. Xanax) are often referred to as Benzos. Learn about their side effects as well as symptoms of addiction and withdrawal.

Read more on NSW Health website

Personality disorders | HealthEngine Blog

Personality disorder, a psychological condition, causes a pattern of predictable behaviours that lead to social rejection or occupational dysfunction.

Read more on HealthEngine website

Drug abuse (substance abuse) | HealthEngine Blog

Drug and substance abuse is a psychological illness characterised by misuse of or dependence on drugs like cocaine, ice, ecstasy or hallucinogens.

Read more on HealthEngine website

How To Deal with Anxiety and Worry | THIS WAY UP

Experiencing irrational or uncontrollable worries? You may be suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Learn more about GAD.

Read more on This Way Up website

How To Deal With Trauma | THIS WAY UP

Have you, or a loved one, been involved in a traumatic event? Learn about trauma, and how you can begin to overcome it.

Read more on This Way Up website

Heroin Effects, Addiction, Overdose & 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

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo