How Valium Affects Your Brain and Body?

How Diazepam Affects the Body concept image.

How Does Diazepam Work? Diazepam belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Primarily used to induce a calming effect, the drug, popularly known as Valium, is used to treat a broad range of conditions. Due to its calming effect, conditions that involve some form of agitation are a primary target for treatment.

What does Valium do for anxiety? Valium is effective in the treatment of anxiety owing to its calming effect. A person suffering from anxiety and/or panic attacks can benefit from the anxiolytic effects of diazepam through a titrated treatment regimen.

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How Does Valium Work in General?


A member of the family of classical benzodiazepines, diazepam is useful because of its anticonvulsant and anxiolytic properties. The substance differs with most other anticonvulsants in that it has no effect on glutamate decarboxylase or on GABA levels. Diazepam has been shown to reduce acetylcholine release, a factor thought to contribute to its calming effects. When administered, it utilizes micromolar benzodiazepine binding sites while acting as a calcium channel blocker (CCB), significantly impeding reuptake of depolarization-sensitive calcium at voltage-gated calcium channel (VGCC) sites (primarily glial cell.)

Mechanism of Action

Diazepam affects Type A GABA receptors through positive allosteric modulation. This increases binding of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a powerful inhibitory neurotransmitter present in the Central Nervous System (CNS.) How fast does the Valium work? Increased binding of GABA to its receptors takes either 1-5 minutes or up to 40 minutes depending on whether taken intravenously or orally respectively and results in decreased activity at key CNS sites including the limbic and cortical systems. When this happens, the brain experiences an overall slowdown demonstrated in the calm that results from taking it.

What Does Valium Do to Your Brain?

Bottle of valium pills next to a brain model.Valium for Anxiety

A person suffering from anxiety or panic attacks can benefit from taking diazepam as an anxiolytic aid. When taken, it reduces activity in key areas of the CNS involved in anxiety, resulting in a calming effect.

Valium for Insomnia

Diazepam can provide the relaxing effects needed to allow sleep to occur. While effective, it alters not only sleep patterns but also the very architecture of sleep resulting in longer but poorer quality of sleep.

Valium for Spasms

By depressing the cortical systems of the brain, diazepam reduces the number of motor impulses sent to musculoskeletal structures, resulting in relief from muscle spasms.

How Long Does Valium Take to Work?

Clock next to valium pills showing time of action.

How Long for Valium to Take Effect?

Valium has a relatively long half-life of between 30 and 56 hours so bioavailability of the substance allows for peak effects to build up over this period. From this, it can be inferred that diazepam takes a maximum 56 hours to reach peak pharmacological levels, although in most cases, the time is significantly shorter than this.

How Quickly Does Valium Work?

Valium pharmacokinetics depend on the mode of administration. The administration is done in one of four ways: orally, intravenously, intramuscularly, and via a suppository.

  • Oral: Bioavailability is 100% and will take up to 40 minutes to take effect. Peak pharmacological effects set in 30-90 minutes after administration.
  • Intravenous (IV): Taken in diluted form due to its damaging effects on veins, bioavailability is 100% and once taken, effects set in within 1-5 minutes.
  • Intramuscular (IM): With 100% bioavailability, effects set in within 15-30 minutes of administration. Peak plasma levels are achieved 15 minutes to 1 hour after administration for both IM and IV routes.
  • Suppository: Bioavailability is lower at 90% with peak effects being experienced after 10-45 minutes.

Does Valium Work for Everyone?

Diazepam is effective in the treatment of a host of conditions, but success varies from person to person. Factors such as age, the condition being treated, comorbidity (other conditions occurring simultaneously), contraindications, interactions, and others determine whether taking diazepam will result in positive effects or not. The substance also has dangerous side effects that must be weighed against the possible benefits of taking it.

Valium Pros and Cons

Pros: Diazepam has been shown to be effective in the long-term treatment of conditions that respond well to the drug. Valium for spasms is an example. Persons using the medication can also taper down their dosage relatively easily without long-lasting side effects. Easy availability through drug classification also makes diazepam a desirable choice for those taking it.

Cons: Diazepam adverse effects include confusion, anterograde amnesia, and chronic sedation. When used over a long time, Valium action can lead to tolerance and dependence, resulting in substance abuse and addiction. Depression and impaired motor function are also side effects that come with long-term use. Overdose may lead to coma and possible death due to respiratory arrest.

Useful Yet Deadly

Diazepam is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines as one of the most effective and safe medications required in a health system. This denotes its importance and efficacy in treating various debilitating conditions. However, recognition of the drug by the Department of Justice in the Controlled Substances Act and subsequent classification as a Schedule IV drug does mean there are dangers associated with taking it. Any person taking it must, therefore, do so with extreme caution and under strict medical supervision. Abuse can lead to serious side effects with possibly deadly outcomes.

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If you recognize the signs and symptoms of Valium abuse in yourself or in a loved one, take action today by calling (888)-459-5511 to speak with a knowledgeable representative.
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How Valium Affects Your Brain and Body?

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Comments 12

  • valim 5 ml a day i have been on for a 6 mos but before on clonazepam for many years. i was in and out of detox to get of a normal dose and the wiithdrawals were extremely severe. after one year off things were a bit better and i let a doctor put me back on. i get withdrwal effects about 4 hours after taking it i believe i have paradoxial symptoms and i can’t get of and does not nuch with panic anti depressant remerone made me much worse i am buzzing and very afraid of this feeling. i am stopping the remeron and doctor for i found she is a med dr. working in a clinic with some psychiatric knowledge. i stpped lexapro before starting the remeron . did i stop lexapro too soon,and i feel my main problem was anxiety, from genetics and f
    bad family traumas. what is best for anxiety right now i am taking 5 mg about 5 to 6 hours and very sick by then i think the 25 mg seraquel and neurontin helps some but i am so confused more from the remeron and i have health issues how can i see my doctor like this

  • I have suffered from panic attacks for several years especially when the time changes and it gets dark early. This medication has helped me very much . I had tried several different medications prior to this which simply did not help me however this one , once in my system , does . It acts very quickly within a few minutes and has a calming effect .The only side effect I have noticed is that it does effect my memory at times such as setting objects down and having a hard time remembering where i placed them .Also be advised due to Federal laws a drug test is required every three months if this medication is used over a prolonged period of time.

  • I’ve been on benzos since 1998 (temazepam & lorazepam for9 years, 30 mg of diazepam ever since. My point being ,although I suffer social panic disorder (after going to acid house raves for years 89-2000 surrounded by 10.000 e’d up ravers ) my CNS is shot & I also suffer fits if I don’t take my Valium ,the GPS are doing a great job in treating my problems with being sympathetic whereas I know others who need them but can’t get a sniff of a script. I’ll be on benzos for life now but without them I would be very I’ll, my heart goes out to those who can’t get a script to help their symptoms but benzo abuse has contributed to it ..

  • I love it when I want to have a good night sleep

  • Diazepam for Essential Tremors. New to this drug but seems to help.

  • I was on kolonapin for years. Dr switched me to Valium 3 months ago. I was doing fine. Until 3 weeks ago when I started having tingling, light headed body felt horrible. Couldn’t take no more. Went to Dr today come to find out I was going through withdrawals stupid me forgot to get Valium refilled. So I was 3 weeks fighting this mess. Got back on Valium today. I feel a little better not 100%. How long before drug takes full effect

  • I am 87 years old. Suffered from the age of 10 years often very severe have usually coped very well, but not recently. As I am ageing it is getting worse so very concerned
    I have used Diazapan which has helped, but my doctor does not want to prescribe it, thus leaving me in a huge dilemma

    • I am 62.. Have had anxiety and panic problems since I was a kid. I’ve also been labeled as chronic with depression…mania.. and now find I’m Bipolar..the worst one. I go to a Geriatric Psychiatrist and he’s helping. Had me on Seroquel and mid dose of Klonopin. Just changed me back to xanax and seroquel still. I would look for a Geriatric Psychiatrist if I were you. They understand us better than the 1st year. resident, pimply faced kids who think they know it all when they really know NOTHING about these problems. Good luck.

  • When It comes to mental meds do you ever feel “Pill Shamed” I live in the commonwealth of Kentucky and they don’t want to prescribe Benzodiazepines anymore… I have been on and off of for 12 years and they save me from panic attacks anxiety that I endured as a child… Valium works the best for me! What are they gonna do when you feel like your gonna die or go crazy…

  • Using Valium for white coat syndrom seems to calm me at visits

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