Bipolar Disorder Treatment Medications Valium to Manage Anxiety Disorders and Symptoms By Marcia Purse Marcia Purse Marcia Purse is a mental health writer and bipolar disorder advocate who brings strong research skills and personal experiences to her writing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 19, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Akeem Marsh, MD Medically reviewed by Akeem Marsh, MD LinkedIn Twitter Akeem Marsh, MD, is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist who has dedicated his career to working with medically underserved communities. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print BSIP/UIG / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Overview Contraindications Side Effects Interactions Dependence and Withdrawal Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Valium is a drug used for managing anxiety disorders and short-term treatment of anxiety symptoms. The drug, which is also sold under the generic name diazepam, works by actually slowing down activity in your brain. Overview In bipolar disorder, Valium and other anti-anxiety medications in the same family can quickly help halt certain manic symptoms, such as agitation. This can give mood stabilizers enough time to kick in. Your physician may prescribe Valium just for a short period—generally just a few weeks or less—to treat manic symptoms in bipolar disorder. Valium also can be used to treat skeletal muscle spasms from conditions like inflammation or trauma, along with spasticity, a condition where your muscles contract involuntarily. Spasticity can be caused by conditions like cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and even exercise and dehydration. In another use, Valium may be used as an add-on medication to help people who have seizure disorders. Finally, the drug may be prescribed to treat the symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal, where it may help control tremors, agitation and even the DTs (known in scientific terms as delirium tremens). Valium, which is potentially addictive, was one of the first drugs that are popularly known as the Benzodiazepine tranquilizers. It was approved in 1963. Contraindications According to the manufacturer, Valium should not be given to children under the age of six months. Also, there are other possible contraindications in patients with sleep apnea, serious difficulty breathing, severe liver disease, or myasthenia gravis (a condition that causes weakness in your muscles). If you have glaucoma, it's possible that you should not take diazepam. Make sure you know whether you have open-angle glaucoma (where Valium use is okay as long as you are receiving appropriate treatment) or acute narrow-angle glaucoma (where Valium should not be used). You should contact your ophthalmologist if you are prescribed Valium. How Long Does Valium Last? Side Effects The most common side effects of Valium include: DrowsinessFatigueMuscle weaknessUnsteady gaitCognitive issues You shouldn't use alcohol or take anything else that makes you sleepy while taking Valium. In addition, if you're taking Valium to help treat a seizure disorder, you shouldn't stop taking it suddenly, because doing so may increase your risk for seizures. Possible Drug Interactions Because Valium slows the activity of your central nervous system, your doctor should be careful when prescribing other drugs that can affect your central nervous system. These include: Phenothiazine antipsychotics (including Compazine and Thorazine) Antipsychotics (including Zyprexa, Haldol, and Risperdal) Anti-anxiety medications (such as Xanax) Sedatives and hypnotics (including Ambien and Lunesta) Anticonvulsants Narcotic painkillers (such as Percodan) Anesthetics Sedative antihistamines (such as Benadryl) Barbiturates Certain antidepressants There also are several drugs that can potentially lead to increased Valium levels or even toxicity when taken with Valium. These include: Tagamet (cimetidine), prescribed for ulcers and excess stomach acidPrilosec (omeprazole), another drug for excess stomach acidOral ketoconazole, which treats fungal infectionsLuvox (fluvoxamine), used for obsessive-compulsive disorder and depressionProzac (fluoxetine), used for depression and anxiety You should always make certain both your physician and your pharmacist know what other drugs you're taking if you're starting a Valium prescription since it interacts with so many drugs. Dependence and Withdrawal Valium is a member of the benzodiazepine family. These drugs can lead to dependence even if you're only taking the prescribed dose. Valium can also be abused. You run a higher risk of this if you misuse the medication or have an underlying substance use disorder. Symptoms of withdrawal from Valium can be mild to severe and include: InsomniaHeadacheMuscle painSweatingRestlessnessIrritabilityAbdominal and muscle crampsTremorSeizures A temporary return of anxiety symptoms that are worse than before treatment was started also can occur. If you stop taking the drug suddenly, your withdrawal symptoms may be more severe. Your doctor can help you by designing a plan to taper down your dose gradually when discontinuing Valium. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Valium can potentially increase the risk of birth defects if you take it during pregnancy, and there is some risk that your baby will go through withdrawal if you take the medication during your third trimester. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. You also shouldn't use Valium if you're breastfeeding, since the drug will pass through to your baby in your breast milk. How Long Does Valium Stay in Your Body? 1 Source Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Valium. Genetech, Inc. Additional Reading Roche Products, Inc. "FDA Approved Label for Valium." By Marcia Purse Marcia Purse is a mental health writer and bipolar disorder advocate who brings strong research skills and personal experiences to her writing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.