Ativan vs. Xanax

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Ativan vs. Xanax review

  • Ativan (lorazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam) are both members of the benzodiazepine family of drugs used mainly to treat anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.
  • Researchers believe both Ativan and Xanax – like other benzodiazepines – work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter that helps inhibit excess brain activity. Excessive activity of nerves in the brain may cause anxiety and other psychological disorders, according to the current understanding of neuroscience.
  • The central difference between Ativan and Xanax is Ativan leaves a person's system more quickly, reducing the chance of toxicity or side effects, a few of which are:
  • Lorazepam also has fewer unfavorable interactions with other medications when compared to alprazolam. Each medication, however, can cause dangerous increased sedation when consumed with alcohol, other depressants or other anti-anxiety medications.
  • Both drugs also have the potential for addiction. Stopping either Ativan or Xanax abruptly can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms, depending on how long a person has been taking the drug.

What are Ativan and Xanax?

Lorazepam and alprazolam are both benzodiazepines. They affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter chemical that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another. It is thought that Ativan, Xanax and other benzodiazepines may act by enhancing the effects of GABA in the brain. By influencing GABA, benzodiazepines reduce the activity of nerves in the brain.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/14/2017

Quick GuideADHD Symptoms in Children

ADHD Symptoms in Children
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

RxList Logo

Need help identifying pills and medications?

Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Children's Health & Parenting Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors