Understanding the Link Between Diazepam and Anxiety

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Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV.

Understanding the Link Between Diazepam and Anxiety
Diazepam is a prescription drug which users can quickly become addicted to. Used as both a muscle relaxant and an anxiety treatment, can diazepam cause the anxiety it is meant to prevent?
If your mental health problems, seizures, or muscle spasms are severe enough, your medical professional may prescribe you diazepam as a treatment. Diazepam is one of the benzodiazepine drugs, which are highly addictive. They also have their roots in medical use, which explains any initial exposure many diazepam addicts experience which makes them hooked in the first place. Like many mental health medications, prolonged use of this medicine can actually make your anxiety and depression far worse. This article seeks to explore the link between anxiety and diazepam so that you can understand how it works.

What is Diazepam

Let’s start with the basics. Diazepam is legal in the UK and is available for prescription through the NHS. Your doctor might give it to you in 2mg, 5mg, or stronger tablets. You can take diazepam as a suppository, orally, or as a liquid (Valium). You doctor may inject it into you if you are in hospital. Similarly, if you go for dental appointments where the dentist sedates you, you may be on an intravenous drip containing liquid diazepam. Doctors will only recommend that you take diazepam for a period of less than four weeks. If they feel you are taking too much of it, they will stop your prescription. If you struggle with this, contact Help4Addiction for details on rehab options. It is only available on prescription officially, however, you can buy diazepam from disreputable sources on the illegal market. 

Illegal Diazepam use in the UK

Diazepam use has increased in recent years. In a revealing article in the Manchester News, reporters recorded that lockdown Britain hit the drugs hard. They record a huge market in pregabalin, diazepam, and tramadol, all turning parts of the city into slums. Reporters were able to buy illegal tablets for as little as 50p per pill. Statista report an estimate of 290 drug deaths in the UK caused by diazepam in 2021. In earlier years, border patrol agents reported seizures of over a million tablets annually, increased from half a million in 2017.  However, we want to know about the link between this drug and mental illness. Can diazepam cause anxiety when it is an anxiety treatment? 

When might a doctor prescribe Diazepam?

Doctors can prescribe diazepam for a number of reasons. Here are the most common:
  • Intense, painful muscle spasms – diazepam can release the tension which causes the spasm
  • Before an operation – as a pre-med drug, diazepam relaxes your body
  • To combat intense phobias – you might get diazepam at the dentist if you need a root canal or tooth extraction
  • To help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms – the relaxing effect helps patients in alcohol detox 
  • To treat generalised anxiety
  • To treat seizures or fits

What does Diazepam do to you?

Why do people continue to buy and take diazepam illegally after the doctor has stopped their prescription? Diazepam is one of the prescription drugs which makes you feel really good about life. It increases the production of the GABA receptors in your brain. GABA receptors send signals to our brain that tell us we are happy. When you suffer from a mental illness such as anxiety or depression, there is something inside your brain which is preventing those receptors from sending signals. Take diazepam and the receptors flood. This leaves you without a care in the world.  Diazepam is an incredibly dangerous drug. It combines highly addictive feelings with a happiness which borders on the inhibition you feel when you are drunk. When you take diazepam, you could walk in front of a car and not care. You say and do things you wouldn’t normally say or do. You can end up getting into a lot of trouble both with relatives and with your health. Keep taking it and your health will degenerate. It might even kill you.

The Side Effects of Diazepam Use

The problem with this seemingly useful prescription medication is that people abuse it. If you take diazepam as your doctor prescribes it, there is nothing to worry about. You may experience some of the following side effects but not the worst ones. The doctor will stop your course if they feel you are in danger. Here are common side effects of diazepam use:
  • Anxiety – yes, this anxiety treatment can cause further anxiety
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Confusion 
  • Lack of co-ordination
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Unusual mood swings
  • You keep falling
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Your skin could turn yellow
  • Amnesia
If you experience any of these symptoms consult your doctor. Sleepiness is normal, amnesia warrants a trip to the GP.

Can diazepam cause anxiety?

Yes, diazepam can cause anxiety. How does an anti-anxiety medication cause you intense anxious states? It is as simple as the length of time you take it for. As we mentioned before, diazepam works by increasing the production of the GABA receptors in your brain. This signals your Central Nervous System to slow down. Although this can prevent panic, it also lulls us into that susceptible state where our judgment becomes impaired. When you take the drug for longer than four weeks, you begin to form a habit where your brain relies on it for you to feel happy or at ease. When you don’t have it in your system, your GABA receptors go back to minimal production. If you abuse diazepam and regularly overstimulate the receptors, they will take longer to recover. You go from low GABA stimulation to no stimulation at all while they recover from the overproduction.  The result? You will feel far more anxious than you did before you took diazepam in the first place. If you were being treated for an anxiety problem before hand, diazepam tablets have the potential to make it infinitely worse. 

What to do if Diazepam causes you anxiety?

If diazepam is causing severe anxiety, this is a sign you are taking too much of it, or for too long. The receptors in your brain are becoming dependant on it. It is time to consult your doctor if they are prescribing it to you. If they are not, and you ae buying it illegally, consider this your warning sign that it is time to quit.  Call the Help4Addiction team on 0203 955 7700 to discuss your options for rehab for diazepam addiction. It might just save your life.

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