The Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine (www.apm.org) describes anxiety as an “ubiquitous symptom of modern life” . One of the modern remedies for anxiety has been the use of a drug commonly referred to as Valium (diazepam), which came into general use around 1970.
Valium (diazepam), a minor tranquilizer, is closely related to minor tranquilizer Librium (Chlordiazepoxide; 1960) and major tranquilizer Thorazine (chlorpromazine; 1959)
Use of Diazepam (Valium)
Diazepam is a prescription medication used to treat anxiety disorders
, to relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, as well as seizures, and to control agitation caused by alcohol withdrawal. It is also prescribed for short-term insomnia relief
. Other uses for this medicine are for treating irritable bowel syndrome, panic attacks
and certain types of epilepsy
Valium (diazepam) has been described as a “lifestyle drug,” and Cai Guise-Richardson, PhD, from Iowa State University refers to it as “emotional aspirin” , and a “hypnotic” drug . Like many psychiatric drugs
, diazepam does not cure the anxiety or address its cause, but merely temporarily assuages the symptoms. When the drug wears off, like aspirin, another dose is necessary to once again relieve anxiety
Twice as many prescriptions for diazepam are made for women than for men . However, a worrisome fact is that most prescriptions for diazepam are made by physicians who are not psychiatrists
, even though said prescriptions are most often for anxiety. There may be no physical addiction associated with the drug, but psychological addiction and abuse are common.
History of Thorazine (Major Tranquilizer) and Valium (Minor Tranquilizer)
Cai Richardson, PhD, describes the history of psychiatric drugs
as having started in 1950 with the creation of the drug Chlorpromazine (CPZ), which came to be referred to as Thorazine. Thorazine first came into widespread use around 1959 in psychiatric hospitals for patients with acute disorders. It was observed as having a calming and stabilizing effect, thereby revolutionizing psychiatric hospitals and the way patients were treated.
then became the norm, and other even stronger antipsychotic drugs followed the development of Thorazine (A similar drug, called Stelazine, was also developed around the same time as Thorazine) .
Dr. Richardson describes thorazine as a first-generation psychopharmaceutical antipsychotic drug and a “major tranquilizer” . Valium, on the other hand, has been one of the most frequently prescribed medications in the past 40 years (1970-2010). It is described as a "second-generation" psychopharmaceutical drug and “minor tranquilizer.”
The predecessor to Valium was Librium (chlordiazepoxide), approved for use in the U.S. in 1960. It is also a mild tranquilizer used for similar reasons, primarily anxiety. When it first gained popularity, Valium was considered to be an improvement from barbiturates
; it was less dangerous and less physically addictive.
The effects of Librium (Chlordiazepoxide - 1960) are similar to those of Valium, which is why the drug was also used to treat anxiety in addition to being given to pre-surgery patients in order to relieve apprehension. Librium can be habit-forming, according to the U.S. Government medical website PubMed Health.
Patients should not stop the use of Librium abruptly, as this can result in anxiousness, sleeplessness
, and irritability . Furthermore, drugs such as Valium and Librium should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women, as the chemicals can be passed on to the baby .
Exercise is an Effective Anti-Anxiety Alternative to Valium
and Other Tranquilizers
Dr. Hollister states in Psychosomatics, published by the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine, that physical activity such as exercise is effective in dealing with anxiety, and can sometimes be used instead of prescription drugs like Valium (diazepam) .
How Diazepam (Valium) is Taken
Diazepam comes in the form of tablets with extended release, as well as in liquid form, with both taken orally. Patients are usually advised to take the drug 1-4 times a day, with or without food. Diazepam concentrate (liquid) comes with a designated dropper to help patients measure out the correct dose. In case you have decided to take concentrated Valium, ask your pharmacist to show you how to use the dropper. Additionally, it is advised that you dilute the concentrate in water, juice, a carbonated beverage, applesauce, or pudding immediately before taking it .
Withdrawal from Valium
Taking Valium can be habit-forming. Additionally, sudden changes in dosing or discontinuation are unadvisable, since functioning can be impaired as a result, and you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sleeplessness
, irritability, dizziness, inability to concentrate, and aches and pains in different body parts.
Your doctor will likely decrease your dose gradually. A Diazepam overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount. However, overdosing on diazepam (Valium) alone is not common, and is usually associated with the use of additional prescription or non-prescription drugs as well as alcohol .
Side effects from Valium (diazepam) are common and include the following:
changes in appetite
More rarely, side effects from Valium can include:
restlessness or excitement
changes in sex drive or ability
Additional cognitive side effects associated with drug sedation:
persistent, fine tremor or inability to sit still
difficulty breathing or swallowing
severe skin rash
yellowing of the skin or eyes
*Above side-effects list from MedlinePlus
loss of normal behavioral controls can result 
These side effects can be especially severe for the elderly. Those using diazepam should exercise caution when driving an automobile or operating other heavy machinery .
Tranquilizers: Their Functions and Potential Problems
Drugs, such as diazepam, also referred to as depressants, decrease the rate of brain activity (similar with alcohol), which prevents some nerve cells from being potent. The result is that those sections of the brain responsible for sensing fear become less active, and thus you become tranquilized.
While depressants have some benefits, long-term use can lead to severe problems. For one, these substances reduce the effects of natural inhibitors of the impacted neurons. As a result, the user comes to depend on the drug to relieve everyday life anxieties, which everybody experiences, and thereby has a more difficult time experiencing emotions of joy, as stated in the book Biology, The Living Science
(Miller and Levine, 2000).
Natural Remedies and Preventive Measures for Anxiety
Some effective and natural anti-anxiety approaches are:
Finding a spiritual outlet
Green time - taking time to regularly enjoy nature
Some Preventive Measures Include:
Spend less time around electronics, and more time socializing with people you enjoy
Keep healthy by eating well and exercising
Do not bottle in your emotions, but rather talk about them with loved ones, as well as a mental health professional
Avoid using alcohol and other substances to deal with your negative emotions and experiences
Engage in new and interesting activities – take classes, learn a new languages etc.
References for article Valium (Diazepam): Its History, Use, Addictive Quality:
1. Guise-Richardson, Cai, (July 2010). Using Patents to Teach History. Organization of American Historians
2. Hollister, Leo E., M.D. Valium: A Discussion of Current Issues. Psychosomatics
3. Librium, (August 1, 2010). PubMed Health
4. Librium, (2009). PDR Health
6. Glenn E. and Barbara Hodsdon Ullyot Scholar. (2010–2011). Current Research
.Chemical Heritage Foundation
7. Biology, The Living Science,
(2000). Miller, Levine. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.