Ativan vs Xanax: What is the difference?

Ativan vs Xanax: What is the difference?

Ativan vs Xanax, although similar, there are some essential differences between the two.

Xanax and Ativan are one of the most famous medicines in the world. Only in the United States more than 47 million of Xanax and similar medications were prescribed in the year 2017, according to data from the DEA. Most commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders, here is what makes Ativan (Lorazepam) and Xanax (Alprazolam)


What they have in common

Coming from the medicine family of benzodiazepines, working the brain and the central nervous system, both Xanax and Ativan share similar chemical structure. According to researchers, benzodiazepines are safe and effective in short term uses, working increasing the effectiveness of a natural brain chemical called GABA. This reduces the communication between the neurons causing a calming effect. They are used to suppress the neurons that create fear. Commonly they are used in treatment for anxiety, panic disorders and panic attacks. Both drugs are frequently taken orally. They can be prescribed as pills or as droppers (a tip is always measuring the quantity right and mixing it with water, liquid or soft foods).

New research shows that benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Ativan can also be used for Social Anxiety Disorder, a disorder that makes the person that suffers it struggle with Intense anxiety and a fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, ridiculed, or rejected in a social or a performance such a delivering a speech in college, school or work. Common effects of this not-so-known disorder according to The Anxiety and Depression Society of America is a feeling of powerlessness against their anxiety, even if they can recognize that this fear is unreasonable and excessive. Common causes of this disorder is rejecting any kind of social interaction that involves too much interaction with other people, that includes rejecting jobs that may require it. Only in America, 15 million people suffer from it and prescribed use of Xanax or Ativan can be a relief for people with Social Anxiety Disorder.


What is the difference between Ativan and Xanax

Now that we know where they are similar, let’s show the difference between Ativan vs Xanax. They are used for different treatments: although both share the treatment for anxiety disorders; Xanax makes a quicker action on the body, while Ativan stays in the body for longer time, as it takes a bit longer to place its effects. With a peak of 1-2 hours vs the 1 to 6 hours peak of Ativan, Xanax may be considered more effective for in short time relief for anxiety. Xanax can also be taken for essential tremors, ringing in the ears and extreme PMS while Ativan can relieve tension, relentlessness, fear of open spaces (agoraphobia) and the feeling of irrational fears on the user.

Other major difference is that Ativan is commonly prescribed for underage users as a pre-operative sedative, insonia and for anxiety while Xanax is only prescribed for people over the age of 18. According to data by the FDA, use of Ativan causes no appreciable effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular system. However, your physician need to be told if you have a history of respiratory problems such as asthma or severe allergies. Patients with acute pulmonary insufficiency and respiratory depression should not take Xanax.

When it comes to popularity, Xanax it way more prescribed that Ativan, one of those reasons is the aforementioned quickness of action that this medication possesses. You can feel the calming effect of Xanax as quickly as 5 minutes after taking it, and an hour being the longest it takes to be completely absorbed by the bloodstream. Unlike Ativan, the feeling of relief that comes with Xanax is higher.

Ativan can also be prescribed through injection, if the patient suffers from Status Epilecticus or commonly known as Epilepsy. Approved by the FDA for all types of seizures, according to the Epilepsy Foundation it can be used for different uses such as atonic (drop attacks), absence, myoclonic, partial seizures and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome associated seizures. Ativan is often paired with another anti-epilepsy medication and can be used in emergency situations.

Common Side effects of Xanax and Ativan are Drownsiness, Tiredness and Dizzyness. Although they share those side effect they have other individual that are different for each medicine such as memory problems and poor balance when it comes to Xanax and Muscle weakness and Blurred Vision when it comes to Ativan. The memory problem, or temporary amnesia in Xanax is one of the reasons that it is sometimes used for pre- surgery uses, as it makes the user forget the bad experience that is the surgery. Driving under both these medicines is very adviced against.


Interactions with other medicines

Interactions with other medicines is when you should avoid taking Xanax or Ativan with the following medication as they can react with other medications. This step should be taken with all medications and not just with Xanax and Ativan. If you are taking the following medications, please consult with your doctor: antifungals, antidepressants, opioids, heartburn medication, PPIs oral contraceptives, and anti-biotics.


Important Recommendations

Xanax and Ativan are both prescribed with very specific instructions. For example, use of Ativan for light anesthesia is  0.05 mg/kg up to a maximum of 4 mg for adults. If instructions from your doctor are unclear and you don’t understand them, make sure he or she explain the recommended use. If you forget a dosage, take the next dosage scheduled but don’t take two doses at once.

As with the majority of drugs, the use of Xanax and Ativan is to be control by a doctor and not to be taken with alcohol, while pregnant or lactating. Both drugs can potentially cause addiction if stopped abruptly, always consult with your doctor or pharmacist before stopping your medication. Both medicines are sold only with a prescription from a physician. Both Xanax and Ativan need to be supervised by a doctor while you are taking them, and usage is depending on what is deemed necessary by your doctor. Upgrades or downgrades in usage might also happen during your time on one these medications, nothing to worry if that happens, your doctor will explain the reason why he or she is taking this step.