HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Return to Diazepam overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
Clare listing
Taking Setraline, Diazepam and Mirtazpine: Clare's story
The medication my doctor prescribed me has helped me to ease back into everyday life.

Whislt taking diazepam some people think about hurting themselves or committing suicide.

You must go straight to hospital with your tablets if you have any of these thoughts. You must tell the doctor that you are taking diazepam. There are other things you can take instead.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist before you take diazepam if you have any of these conditions

You need to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking diazepam if you:

  • are allergic (hypersensitive) to diazepam or to other benzodiazepine medicines or to any of the other ingredients in your tablets
  • are breathless or have difficulty breathing
  • have depression (with or without anxiety) or hyperactivity
  • have a phobia (a fear of a particular object or situation) or other mental illness
  • have myasthenia gravis
  • suffer from sleep apnoea ( a condition where you stop breathing whilst asleep)
  • have severe liver disorders
  • have porphyria (an inherited condition causing skin blisters, gut pain and brain or nervous system disorders)
  • are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant

Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking diazepam tablets if you:

  • have a history of being dependent on drugs or alcohol to get through the day
  • have problems with your heart and lungs or have severe kidney failure
  • someone close to you has recently died
  • have low blood levels of a protein called albumin
  • have a personality disorder

Diazepam has some serious side effects, and if you get them you will need a doctor’s help

Go to a doctor or hospital straight away if you get any of the following symptoms, as they might be part of an allergic reaction:

  • itchy skin or rash
  • swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing

Some other side-effects that do appear should get better after a few days. If they do not, you should go back to your doctor

Some side-effects of diazepam may – strangely - seem like other mental health symptoms. Some side-effects here are also the opposites of each other. The balance of chemicals in the brain is very fragile, and hard to control! If they do not get better after a few days on the tablets, go back to the doctor. 

Do not stop taking the tablets until you talk to your doctor, or you may get withdrawal symptoms as well.

Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following side effects or notice any other effects not listed:

  • extreme sleepiness that interferes with your daily life
  • slurred speech
  • headache, light-headedness, a ‘spinning’ sensation, unsteadiness or clumsiness and loss of co-ordination (you may notice these even after a single dose and this may continue into the following day)
  • confusion, or memory loss (which may be experienced several hours after taking diazepam)
  • seeing or sensing things that are not there, unusual behaviour, difficulty concentrating, agitation/irritability, getting overexcited or restless, feeling very angry (rage), numbed emotions, or depression with thoughts of hurting or killing yourself
  • blood disorders (you may develop sore throats, nose bleeds or infections) 
  • changes in your sex drive
  • in men, growth of breasts
  • visual disturbances
  • low blood pressure
  • stomach upsets
  • yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • muscle spasms/shaking or weakness 
  • breathing difficulties
  • difficulty going to wee
  • increase in your amount of spit (saliva)
  • you feel you are starting to need this product to get you through the day

Diazepam can change the effect of other medicines

Diazepam medicines may affect the way other drugs work. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, some dose adjustments may be required to ensure you get the best from the diazepam with as few side effects as possible.

Do not take diazepam with drinks or tablets containing caffeine (like coffee or cola) as this can reduce the effect of the diazepam.

If you have any further questions about this you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

Always talk to the doctor if you are taking other medicines.

Tell the pharmacist you are taking diazepam if you buy medicines (including things you put on your skin) for common illnesses.

You may need to change your dose of diazepam if you stop or start smoking

  • Cigarette smoke may affect the amount of diazepam in your body.
  • If you smoke, you will might need a higher dose of diazepam than someone who does not smoke.
  • Tell your doctor if you smoke, so that you get the right dose for you.
  • If you stop smoking, the body diazepam level could rise and you might need to reduce your dose of diazepam slowly over one week
  • If you (re)start smoking, you will might need to increase it again
  • Go to your doctor for advice if you stop or start smoking.

Diazepam does not mix well with drugs.

  • It is very easy, and serious, to overdose with any combination of diazepam and drugs.
  • Using cannabis with diazepam will make its sedative effect worse. You could go into a very deep sleep where you do not breathe properly and have difficulty waking up.
  • Using heroin or methadone with diazepam will increase their combined sedative effects. You could go into a very deep sleep where you do not breathe properly and have difficulty waking up.
  • Using cocaine or other stimulants (like ecstasy, amphetamines, MDA, 6-APB) with diazepam is likely to lead to a reduced stimulant effect.

Stopping diazepam quickly may cause withdrawal symptoms 

You can stop taking it safely with your doctor’s help

Do not stop taking diazepam all at once. This could lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • depression, nervousness, or irritability
  • sweating
  • quick or uneven heartbeat
  • muscle spasms or shaking
  • loss of appetite, feeling or being sick, stomach cramps or diarrhoea
  • having fits

If you have been taking a high dose, you may feel confused or behave strangely for a short while.

Your doctor will help you to reduce diazepam slowly over a few days at the end of a short course of treatment. Otherwise the symptoms you are being treated for may return more intensely than before (rebound insomnia and anxiety).

The risk of this happening is greater when you stop taking diazepam suddenly. You may also experience mood changes, anxiety, restlessness or changes in your sleep patterns.
If you have been taking diazepam for a long time, then the doctor will help you to come them by reducing the dose very gradually for a longer period of time.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, go back to your doctor for advice.